Training Doctors Perform Virtual Colonoscopies To Perfect Their Skills
March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the city's public hospital system is using a new virtual approach to making sure more of their doctors are trained to get New Yorkers screened safely. NY1's Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Doctors in public city hospitals now have a new, virtual training tool on their hands for colonoscopies and other gastrointestinal procedures. It's kind of like a video game, but the end result could have a more serious outcome of saving real lives.
It is yet another addition to the city's Institute for Medical Simulation and Advanced Learning, at Jacobi Medical Center in the Pelham section of the Bronx.
"The way it works is they give you a case presentation, Patient X comes in with these symptoms and these are the tests and you start from the very beginning. You do a colonoscopy from the very beginning all the way through the end of a procedure," says Dr. Meade Barlow, a Jacobi Medical surgical resident. "And you can expect to see what you would expect to see in real life doing a colonoscopy."
The simulator actually warns trainees if they are harming the patient or about to cause an error, something that sometimes can't happen in an actual procedure.
In the past year alone, the public hospital system performed about 22,000 colonoscopies. They removed polyps in nearly 5,000 patients and they say training methods like this can only help to improve outcomes.
"It actually means when the trainees get to do their colonoscopy for the first time, they might have actually practiced 10 or 20 times previously," says RN Director Katie Walker of the Institute for Medical Simulation and Advanced Learning. "And it means that patient will actually experience a trainee who knows what they are doing before they do that colonoscopy. So it's a great move forward for health care."
Of course, this is just an added step before working on actual patients. Residents still train with specialists before moving from virtual procedures to reality.
"There is nothing better than an actual patient but the amount you can learn from every time you do it on an actual patient depends on what you go in with," says Barlow. "And going with more skill makes you able to learn more and protect the patient better."