University of Iowa medical students now have a very sophisticated version of “Chatty Cathy” to help them practice anesthesia. BabySim resembles an infant between six and eight months old. It’s billed as the nation’s first infant patient simulator installed in a teaching hospital. Doctor Suhas Kalghatgi is director of Human Patient Simulation in the U-of-I’s Anesthesia Department. Dr. Kalghatgi says the robo-baby is remarkable. It realistically recreates the physiology you see in a baby. It has a heart beat, it breathes and can even cry and urinate. Using a computer, Kalghatgi can control the robo-baby’s vital signs to test future doctors as they try to put the child “under” prior to surgery. He can change up BabySim’s heart rate, the breaths per minute and the blood pressure to offer students various scenarios they might encounter. Depending on the diagnosis, they can try to treat the baby and with the appropriate moves, the baby will survive — or not. Of course when this patient dies, it’s no big deal to hit reset. Kalghatgi says the 50-thousand dollar BabySim will soon become an important educational tool for students and will help enhance patient safety.
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