Simulations help hospital prepare for real births and at-risk babies

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo -- Children's Mercy Hospital delivers babies, but only babies at high risk because of congenital conditions. Doctors and nurses say practice is vital in seeing that moms and babies have the best outcomes possible.

The patient doesn't have any labor pains, but the fetal health team is taking pains to not view her as a dummy.

"This is Victoria. She is a 25-year-old G2 P1," said Melanie Foltz, director of nursing at the fetal health center.

From the real instruments to the drape, the team is ready for a c-section. It's their latest birth simulation. The simulations happen at the center three or four times a month.

"Groups bring us ideas. They approach us and say we'd really like simulation for this," said Dr. Richard Schremmer, director of the simulation program at the hospital.

Foltz said, "We also look at our scheduled list of patients coming to us so we can simulate events we may anticipate in the future."

All of the real babies born at Children's Mercy are at risk because of congenital conditions. All go to the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU. That team goes through its plan for Victoria's baby.

"First, get the bowel bag on the baby to protect the bowel and second, get an OG (orogastric tube) down," said Dr. Jessica Brunkhorst, a neonatologist, to the team.

The baby is delivered. The NICU team takes over. The baby has intestines outside of the body. It's a condition called gastroschesis that's rarely seen at most other hospitals, but it's not rare here.

"At any given time, there's probably three or four babies in the unit that have had a gastroschesis," said Dr. Brunkhorst.

The team puts a bag over the abdomen to protect the intestines. A nurse also starts an I-V.

The simulation ends. Debriefing begins.

"It all went pretty smoothly," said Dr. Brunkhorst.

Foltz said, "We also like to say the best simulation is when you walk out with things that need to be fixed, improved."

That can mean better care for the next mom and baby -- a real mom and baby.

Simulations are common now at many hospitals as research shows they improve outcomes in various specialties including obstetrics.