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Simulation versus live tissue training randomised trial for ECMO proficiency: is one better than the other?


Introduction Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a classic low-volume high-risk procedure that requires just in time and/or refresher training through animal or simulation modalities. This manuscript evaluated the performance of ECMO personnel trained with both modalities to determine which is better suited for ECMO skills training.

Methods Participants (physicians, nurses and respiratory/medical technicians) completed a series of ECMO scenarios with synthetic tissue cannulation task trainer as well as a live tissue model. Objective performance quality was based on task completion using a validated ECMO skills assessment tool.

Results Thirty-eight individuals completed this study. Participants completed individual scenario tasks 3 min faster using the simulator (26 min vs 29 min; p=0.03). No differences were seen in percentage of individual tasks completed. In the group scenarios, participants completed a higher percentage of critical tasks using the simulator (97%) versus the animal model (91%; p=0.05), but no differences were seen in task completion times. Additionally, no differences were seen in either lab-based or participants’ prelab cognitive scores.

Conclusions Regardless of their self-assessment or experience, participants’ objective performances were similar among both animal and simulation labs. Task completion times were quicker with simulation model. The distinction between simulation versus animal model may be less important as both demonstrate benefit in development of and/or maintaining skill competency. In the era of questioning the need for and costs of live tissue training, expanding the role of simulation may achieve similar training goals.

  • High fidelity simulation
  • interprofessional education
  • procedural skills training
  • procedure based assessments
  • infant, newborn

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