C-section simulator trains doctors in high risk births

Thursday 8 January 2015


An emergency caesarean section simulator that allows doctors to experience life-threatening situations is realistic and should be used in training, according to new research.

The study to test the effectiveness of Desperate Debra®, a silicone abdomen that simulates difficulty during advanced labour, found that 87% of doctors say it is realistic and 93% think it is a useful training device.

Now experts from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and NHS Fife, who designed Desperate Debra®, are calling for it to be made a mandatory training device for all gynaecologists and obstetricians.

During emergency caesareans, which affect around 20,000 births per year in the UK, the baby’s head may get stuck in the pelvis because the woman is in the advanced stages of labour.

Professor Andrew Shennan, consultant obstetrician at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “The need for an emergency caesarean can develop very quickly and situations can rapidly deteriorate. Although thankfully these life-threatening situations are rare, this means that doctors often do not get to experience them before they are faced with them for the first time.

“Desperate Debra® will allow doctors to experience and practise dealing with the difficulties of these scenarios. The simulator can be adjusted to different difficulties and is highly realistic in terms of how the baby’s head and neck move.

“We are pleased to have such positive feedback from doctors involved in the study. We have proven that Desperate Debra® is useful and we hope the use of the simulator will reduce the likelihood of serious complications occurring during emergency caesareans.”

The research study featured 30 doctors who trialled the simulator at three different difficulty settings.

It compared the ability of senior and junior doctors to deliver the baby, as well as their opinions about how realistic the simulator was.

Dr Graham Tydeman, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at NHS Fife, says: “I wish I’d had the chance to train with a simulator before encountering the real thing.

"Simulators that accurately recreate a clinical experience, particularly in rare emergency situations where consequences can be catastrophic, must be the way forward.

“This study demonstrates the evidence that this device works and has the potential to really improve safety."

Desperate Debra® was funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity and manufactured by Adam Rouilly.


Last updated: January 2015

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