UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Establishing Healthcare Worker Performance and Safety in Providing Critical Care for Patients in a Simulated Ebola Treatment Unit: Non-Randomized Pilot Study Kiiza, Peter; Mullin, Sarah I.; Teo, Koren; Goodman, Len; Perez, Adic; Pinto, Ruxandra; Thompson, Kelly; Piquette, Dominique; Hall, Trevor; Bah, Elhadj I.; Christian, Michael; Hajek, Jan; Kao, Raymond; Lamontagne, François; Marshall, John C.; Mishra, Sharmistha; Murthy, Srinivas; Vanderschuren, Abel; Fowler, Robert A.; Adhikari, Neill K. J.


Improving the provision of supportive care for patients with Ebola is an important quality improvement initiative. We designed a simulated Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) to assess performance and safety of healthcare workers (HCWs) performing tasks wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in hot (35 °C, 60% relative humidity) or thermo-neutral (20 °C, 20% relative humidity) conditions. In this pilot phase to determine the feasibility of study procedures, HCWs in PPE were non-randomly allocated to hot or thermo-neutral conditions to perform peripheral intravenous (PIV) and midline catheter (MLC) insertion and endotracheal intubation (ETI) on mannequins. Eighteen HCWs (13 physicians, 4 nurses, 1 nurse practitioner; 2 with prior ETU experience; 10 in hot conditions) spent 69 (10) (mean (SD)) minutes in the simulated ETU. Mean (SD) task completion times were 16 (6) min for PIV insertion; 33 (5) min for MLC insertion; and 16 (8) min for ETI. Satisfactory task completion was numerically higher for physicians vs. nurses. Participants’ blood pressure was similar, but heart rate was higher (p = 0.0005) post-simulation vs. baseline. Participants had a median (range) of 2.0 (0.0–10.0) minor PPE breaches, 2.0 (0.0–6.0) near-miss incidents, and 2.0 (0.0–6.0) health symptoms and concerns. There were eight health-assessment triggers in five participants, of whom four were in hot conditions. We terminated the simulation of two participants in hot conditions due to thermal discomfort. In summary, study tasks were suitable for physician participants, but they require redesign to match nurses’ expertise for the subsequent randomized phase of the study. One-quarter of participants had a health-assessment trigger. This research model may be useful in future training and research regarding clinical care for patients with highly infectious pathogens in austere settings.

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