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Norwalk Hospital Staff Trains for OB Emergencies

Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, CT, is using "Noelle," a pregnant mannequin, to train physicians, midwives, nurses and others involved in caring for pregnant women.

Noelle is the size of an average adult woman and can be programmed by a computer to simulate a variety of complications in childbirth, which although very uncommon, can be life-threatening, according to Patrick Nugent, MD, chairman of the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics at Norwalk Hospital.

"We may see only one serious complication in every 2,000 or 5,000 births," he said. "However, this ongoing training prepares our staff for these unusual scenarios so that we have the best outcomes for our patients.

The mannequin can be programmed to have a breech delivery, shoulder dystocia, postpartum hemorrhage, heart attack or a multitude of other problems. As part of the education, the L&D staff at Norwalk Hospital assesses and responds to numerous simulated medical complications during childbirth.

A recent 2-day intensive course offered by the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Norwalk Hospital was aimed at enhancing the cognitive and procedural skills of healthcare professionals to help them manage obstetrical emergencies. During the training, there were a few instances that the staff, in order to improve the condition of the mother and baby, recommended medications or performing a C-section.

The baby mannequin also was programmed to simulate medical problems, such as a drop in fetal heart rate, which the staff immediately addressed.

Pam Drolsbaugh, RN, clinical coordinator for Norwalk Hospital's L&D staff, who is on the faculty for the course, said the hands-on training is very effective and makes learning more exciting and interesting for the staff.

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