Anesthesia crisis resource management training: teaching anesthesiologists to handle critical incidents

S K Howard, D M Gaba, K J Fish, G Yang, F H Sarnquist
Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 1992, 63 (9): 763-70
The authors have developed a course in Anesthesia Crisis Resource Management (ACRM) analogous to courses in Crew (Cock-pit) Resource Management (CRM) conducted in commercial and military aviation. Anesthesiologists do not typically receive formal training in crisis management although they are called upon to manage life-threatening crises at a moment's notice. Two model demonstration courses in ACRM were conducted using a realistic anesthesia simulation system to test the feasibility and acceptance of this kind of training. Anesthesiologists received didactic instruction in dynamic decision-making, human performance issues in anesthesia, and in the principles of anesthesia crisis resource management. After familiarization with the host institution's operating rooms and with the simulation environment, they underwent a 2-h simulation session followed by a debriefing session which used a videotape of their simulator performance. Participants rated the course as intense, helpful to their practice of anesthesiology, and highly enjoyable. Several aspects of the course were highly rated, including: videotapes of actual anesthetic mishaps, simulation sessions, and debriefing sessions. Scores on written tests of knowledge about anesthesia crisis management showed a significant improvement following the first course (residents) but not the second course (experienced anesthesiologists). Although the ultimate utility of this training for anesthesiologists cannot easily be determined, the course appeared to be a useful method for addressing important issues of anesthesiologist performance which have previously been dealt with haphazardly. The authors believe that ACRM training should become a regular part of the initial and continuing education of anesthesiologists.

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