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Updated: June 6, 2013 16:45 IST

Simulations to help medicos sail through emergencies

R. Sujatha
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Programme to train doctors in labour rooms across State; aimed at giving mothers better care

What does it take to handle emergencies in the labour room of a maternity hospital? Mostly experience, one would think. But it also requires being able to handle stress, and obstetricians have discovered that working with patients can be very stressful. And the best way to beat stress is to be prepared.

For the past five years, obstetricians the world over have changed the way they train. Doctors now learn in simulated environments, giving themselves challenging situations to deal with. This training programme has now arrived in the city, coinciding with national newborn week – November 15 to 22.

M. Padmapriya, a postgraduate student of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Government Kilpauk Medical College (KMC), who participated in the programme on Friday, ahead of the session for medical professors, says it is the best way to learn to handle an emergency.

“There are flow-charts, which no matter how many times you read, you tend to forget. The simulation programme has helped me remember the sequence I should follow in a real-life situation,” she said.

In an emergency, doctors end up issuing the same instruction to all the people in the room. “We send out all the nurses in search of blood and there is no one at hand in the operating room,” Dr. Padmapriya recalled.

The training, which created a variety of challenging situations and varied protocols, gave them the opportunity to practise, she said. “For instance, sometimes the baby’s head and shoulder make their way out but then the baby gets stuck. Experience in handling such situations through simulation will enable us to handle the emergency without causing severe morbidity in the newborn,” she said.

Narmada Kuppuswamy, one of the resource persons who conducted the programme said, “Such training programmes have been in vogue for the past decade but in the last five years, many medical colleges in the United States, Britain and Australia have adopted such training programmes.” The two-day programme, which began on Saturday, uses simple techniques like foam stitched to resemble a uterus and patient-actors, Dr. Narmada said.

Such programmes can ensure better care for the woman who comes for childbirth, said A. Kala, head of obstetrics at KMC. She cited studies that found that even in urban settings one in three women gets sub-optimal care and around 25 per cent of patients said they were unhappy with the quality of care provided to them. Better-trained obstetricians can handle emergencies and prevent maternal and newborn deaths, she said.

Confidential reports have also found that absence of team work, lack of skills and inexperience in handling emergencies, poor leadership and communication skills are causes for maternal mortality, Dr. Kala said.

Six persons from abroad and 10 from India are training teachers from 31 colleges in the State, with assistance from Health Education and Learning Projects Charitable Trust and American Tamil Medical Association.

Doctors say clean deliveries, skilled care during deliveries and timely access to emergency obstetric care can prevent newborn deaths. Incidentally, This week (November 15 to 22) is being observed as ‘national newborn week’. An awareness camp on care for newborns was recently held in the Chennai Corporation hospital in Saidapet.

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