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Code Pink training tests knowledge and ability to work as a team

Toronto, February 21, 2017

By Greg Winson

Catherine Bishop and Drs. Doug Campbell and Ethel Ying work to revive an infant during a Code Pink training session
Dr. Doug Campbell (centre) looks on as Catherine Bishop, a clinical nurse educator in the NICU, and Dr. Ethel Ying work to revive an infant during a Code Pink training session in the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

It’s a high stakes operation when a tiny newborn stops breathing. All medical professionals in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit need to work together to bring the infant back to life.

Teamwork is one of the key lessons in the NICU’s Code Pink training, a program run twice a month involving physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and residents. The training, named after the hospital code called for a neonatal medical emergency, is led by Dr. Doug Campbell, director of the NICU and medical director of the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre, and supported by the simulation centre team.

“The Code Pink training not only tests our staff’s knowledge, but perhaps more importantly our ability to come together as a team in a crisis situation,” said Dr. Campbell.

The SimNewB and SimBaby mannequins are used to simulate babies up to three months old. The mannequin is controlled by simulation specialists to respond as an infant would to create a realistic scenario.

The sessions are often held in the NICU on the 15th floor to make them even more realistic.

“The in situ training can also help to identify gaps with equipment, and design of the actual clinical space,” said Dr. Campbell. At other times the sessions are held in the simulation centre to take advantage of additional audio and video equipment.

Scenarios are developed based on input from physicians and other clinical staff.

Did you know?
  • There are 50-60 Code Pinks every year.
  • A Code Pink is most often called on the 15th floor, the 5th floor OR and the Emergency Department, but could occur anywhere in the hospital.
  • There is always a neonatal team ready to help a baby 24-7.

“The scenarios are often based on real events that have happened in our hospital,” said Nazanin Khodadoust, program manager of the Allan Waters Family Simulation Centre. “So it’s very realistic and close to the heart of the staff participating.”

Much of the learning occurs afterward during a video-based debriefing. The team discusses both technical and non-technical issues that came up during the scenario and how they can improve.

“The idea is to translate simulation activity into clinical practice,” said Dr. Campbell.

The team also influences practice beyond St. Michael’s. The simulation centre recently hosted the national launch of the revised Neonatal Resuscitation Program guidelines in part related to the expertise at the Simulation Centre. More than 80 practitioners from across Canada attended the event.

“We’re very active in training our people but also involved in the bigger community,” said Khodadoust.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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