Medical Simulation as a Vital Adjunct to Identifying Clinical Life-Threatening Gaps in Austere Environments

Adaora M. Chima, Rahul Koka, Benjamin Lee, Tina Tran, Onyebuchi U. Ogbuagu, Howard Nelson-Williams, Michael Rosen, Michael Koroma, John B. Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Maternal mortality and morbidity are major causes of death in low-resource countries, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Healthcare workforce scarcities present in these locations result in poor perioperative care access and quality. These scarcities also limit the capacity for progressive development and enhancement of workforce training, and skills through continuing medical education. Newly available low-cost, in-situ simulation systems make it possible for a small cadre of trainers to use simulation to identify areas needing improvement and to rehearse best practice approaches, relevant to the context of target environments. Methods: Nurse anesthetists were recruited throughout Sierra Leone to participate in simulation-based obstetric anesthesia scenarios at the country's national referral maternity hospital. All subjects participated in a detailed computer assisted training program to familiarize themselves with the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM). An expert panel rated the morbidity/mortality risk of pre-identified critical incidents within the scenario via the Delphi process. Participant responses to critical incidents were observed during these scenarios. Participants had an obstetric anesthesia pretest and post-test as well as debrief sessions focused on reviewing the significance of critical incident responses observed during the scenario. Results: 21 nurse anesthetists, (20% of anesthesia providers nationally) participated. Median age was 41 years and median experience practicing anesthesia was 3.5 years. Most participants (57.1%) were female, two-thirds (66.7%) performed obstetrics anesthesia daily but 57.1% had no experience using the UAM. During the simulation, participants were observed and assessed on critical incident responses for case preparation with a median score of 7 out of 13 points, anesthesia management with a median score of 10 out of 20 points and rapid sequence intubation with a median score of 3 out of 10 points. Conclusion: This study identified substantial risks to patient care and provides evidence to support the feasibility and value of in-situ simulation-based performance assessment for identifying critical gaps in safe anesthesia care in the low-resource settings. Further investigations may validate the impact and sustainability of simulation based training on skills transfer and retention among anesthesia providers low resource environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Africa
  • Anesthesia
  • Low-resource environment
  • Sierra Leone
  • Simulation
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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