Originally created 06/12/04

Cardiologists train on clot catcher simulator



Cardiologist Ray Johnson didn't seem fazed that his patient in the cardiac catheterization lab had suddenly piped up.

"Doctor, I have a pain in my chest," he said.

"It will go away," Dr. Johnson replied, never taking his eyes off the screen where he was noting the progress of a wire through the man's body.

But seconds later, the man's heart went awry. Jackie Woestman yelled "Clear," and brought him back by touching a computer screen. Dr. Johnson never took his eyes off the screen. He worked past the problem and quickly finished. The patient didn't live, however. The patient never lived.

The cardiac catheterization lab simulator sits inside a special bus that tours the country teaching cardiologists the finer points of using Boston Scientific's FilterWire clot protection system. The simulator stopped Friday at University Hospital. It is part of a trend of using simulated patients that some predicted would one day become standard for medical education.

The FilterWire, which catches debris and still allows blood flow, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration a year ago. The simulator gives doctors a chance to refine their technique and gives those new to the technology a comfortable place to try it, said clinical nurse specialist Marie Maguire of Medical Simulation Corp.

"It gives them tips and tricks, and if they encounter issues using it on a patient then they've actually had some hands-on experience," she said.

The scenario Dr. Johnson encountered is programmed so that problems ensue, Ms. Maguire said. The physician gains valuable experience with no one's life in danger, said Ms. Woestman, a systems specialist.

"The patient's still plastic. It is going to be OK at the end," she said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.