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Surgical simulators may improve operation outcomes

Illinois doctors may be able to improve their skills in the operating room before ever entering one by using surgical simulators. When a doctor is attempting to learn a new procedure or get a hands-on experience, they have one of two options: operating on a patient or using a virtual-reality program that mimics the actual process. The obvious advantage of a simulator is that a surgical error is simply logged into a computer instead of having a negative impact on a patient.

There are a wide variety of benefits associated with the use of simulators beyond their ability to enable doctors to learn without harm coming to a patient. Simulators are able to catalog and analyze errors, helping professionals find and eliminate the most common ones. Furthermore, since medical residents are limited on the number of hours they are able to work, in an effort to reduce mistakes made due to fatigue, simulators are able to bridge the training gap.

While the technology behind these systems has improved greatly, there is still a large amount of room for growth. Current programs already offer tactile feedback and lifelike movement, but the goal of designers is to be able to map the organs of patients using MRI scans and create programs that allow doctors to practice a patient's surgery before doing so in the operating room.

As surgical simulation technology improves, it is likely that fewer mistakes will be made in the operating room. However, at this time, mistakes are all too common and can create new and worsened conditions for patients. Those who have been harmed by a doctor or hospital's negligence may have legal recourse and be able to recover compensation for medical bills and other expenses through the pursuit of a civil case.

Source: Hispanic Business , "Hands on surgery, minus the patient: U researchers refine use of simulators to practice surgery", Dan Browning, December 08, 2013

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