Study: Simulation training improves contrast reaction management

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A high-fidelity simulation course for radiology residents and technologists focusing on epinephrine auto-injector use and basic life support skills during the first five minutes of a severe contrast reaction can significantly improve treatment of patients experiencing severe contrast reactions, found a recent study published online in Academic Radiology.

“Severe reactions to radiographic contrast agents can be life threatening, and although they are rare, effective recognition and management are essential to improving outcomes,” wrote Nancy M. Tofil, MD, of the department of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues, who conducted the study to determine whether a simulation course concentrating on severe contrast reactions and immediate treatments would be beneficial for radiology residents and technologists in a children’s hospital setting.

Researchers employed a pretest and posttest design for the prospective study, which placed technologists and radiology residents in teams of three to five members. Course learning objectives included when and how to properly use basic life support skills and epinephrine auto-injectors. Prior to the first session of case scenarios, each resident and technologist was administered a pretest.  Following the course, participants were debriefed, and a posttest was administered.

After comparing pretest and posttest scores, authors noted that the average test scores were higher and improved significantly following the simulation course for both radiology residents and technologists. For the 19 participating radiology residents, test scores improved from 57 percent to 82 percent; and for the 11 technologists, scores rose from 47 percent to 72 percent.

In addition, 97 percent of participants rated the experience as extremely or very helpful in regard to furthering knowledge of epinephrine auto-injector use and basic life support skills. “[The final evaluations] demonstrated that the experience was well received by residents and technologists,” said the authors.

Educational interventions, such as those similar to the course utilized in this study, can “significantly improve recognition and knowledge in treating patients having severe contrast reactions,” concluded the study.