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Simul Healthc. 2014 Apr;9(2):102-11. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000005.

Using in situ simulation to evaluate operational readiness of a children's hospital-based obstetrics unit.

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From the Sections of Critical Care Medicine (K.M.V.) and Neonatology (J.S.B.), University of Colorado Department of Pediatrics, Aurora CO; The University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora CO (J.S.B., D.D., A.C.W.); Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO (K.M.V., J.S.B., M.P., L.C.); University of Colorado Work, Education, and Lifelong Learning Simulation Center, Aurora, CO (V.L.B., A.C.W.); and The Colorado Trust (G.B.), Denver, CO and formerly, University of Colorado Center for Advancing Professional Excellence, Aurora, CO.



Relocating obstetric (OB) services to a children's hospital imposes demands on facility operations, which must be met to ensure quality care and a satisfactory patient experience. We used in situ simulations to prospectively and iteratively evaluate operational readiness of a children's hospital-based OB unit before it opened for patient care.


This project took place at a 314-bed, university-affiliated children's hospital. We developed 3 full-scale simulation scenarios depicting a concurrent maternal and neonatal emergency. One scenario began with a standardized patient experiencing admission; the mannequin portrayed a mother during delivery. We ran all 3 scenarios on 2 dates scheduled several weeks apart. We ran 2 of the scenarios on a third day to verify the reliability of key processes. During the simulations, content experts completed equipment checklists, and participants identified latent safety hazards. Each simulation involved a unique combination of scheduled participants who were supplemented by providers from responding ancillary services.


The simulations involved 133 scheduled participants representing OB, neonatology, and anesthesiology. We exposed and addressed operational deficiencies involving equipment availability, staffing, interprofessional communication, and systems issues such as transfusion protocol failures and electronic order entry challenges. Process changes between simulation days 1 to 3 decreased the elapsed time between transfusion protocol activation and blood arrival to the operating room and labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum setting.


In situ simulations identified multiple operational deficiencies on the OB unit, allowing us to take corrective action before its opening. This project may guide other children's hospitals regarding care processes likely to require significant focus and possible modification to accommodate an OB service.

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