Christchurch team develops low-cost medical simulator

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​​​A team led by Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand designed the Hartwell Simulator, a low-cost simulator that plugs into everyday medical equipment.

Anaesthetic specialist Dr. Daniel Hartwell led the team that developed a system that uses the same equipment clinical staff use every day. Biomedical Engineer Michael Sheedy from the Canterbury District Health Board (Canterbury DHB) Medical Physics & Bioengineering Department helped the team with the Hartwell Simulator as part of a focus on technology to improve healthcare for patients and staff. The first module called RESPIRECO2 is a device that generates carbon dioxide to imitate different human breathing patterns that show up on monitors.

Hartwell conducted simulations for anaesthetics teams using partial and full mannequins and actors and tested the simulator in surgical theatres, intensive care units, ambulances and a medical transport helicopter. He worked with Sheedy to develop software to allow wireless control of the calibration device wirelessly from a tablet computer – and the team uses other calibration devices to run simulations of Hartwells’ design that can check equipment and make certain displays appear on medical monitors.

The Hartwell Simulator is used for training in Christchurch Hospital's Emergency Department and is being tested at different hospitals around New Zealand and in Australia.


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