Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sorry, Martin...

In the New Yorker: Nervous med students send "Martin," their training mannequin, to an untimely death.
“It hurts!” Martin cried as the students reviewed his chart. “They told me you’d give me something for the pain.”

“Should we give him something?” one student asked.

“I guess so,” another replied.

The first student emptied a syringe of morphine into an intravenous line attached to Martin’s arm. Within a few seconds, Martin stopped moaning. Then the monitor started to beep rapidly. Martin had stopped breathing. The syringe had contained twenty milligrams of morphine, a potentially lethal dose for someone in his condition...
The students then perform CPR, but they don't give the antidote for morphine overdose. They miss the diagnosis, too: acute pancreatitis. “When the patient is in that much pain, the students’ minds go blank,” their professor explains.
The session that I observed was hardly unusual. “Every group overdosed the patient,” Oriol said.
"Martin" is a sophisticated, high-tech simulated patient. Similar robots may soon teach essential skills to interns and residents. (Will there be mannequins that do this?)
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