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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Northwestern: Training Designed at Feinberg Rolled Out at VA Medical Centers

A novel central line simulation curriculum for residents designed and implemented at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is being rolled out at dozens of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities throughout the nation. A group of medical educators led by Dr. Jeffrey Barsuk, associate professor in medicine-hospital medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, recently demonstrated the effectiveness of the training in reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. The findings were recently published in BMJ Quality and Safety.

“We have completed several studies showing how the development of these skills with real patients is inadequate,” said Dr. Barsuk, a member of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine and Simulation Technology and Immersive Learning Center. “Using traditional methods, mastery simply cannot be accomplished because residents cannot focus on purely learning, and they do not have enough opportunities to practice.”

Central lines, or central venous catheters, are often inserted into the jugular vein and are used to administer medications or fluids, obtain blood for testing, and measure blood pressure near the heart.

CLABSI is a preventable illness costing hundreds of millions of dollars in annual health care costs. The infections are usually serious and typically result in longer hospital stays and increased risk of mortality. They can be prevented through proper insertion techniques and management of the central line.

The innovative central line simulation-based training program was first used at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2006. Since that time, the rate of CLABSI for central lines placed by internal medicine residents has declined to near zero.

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