Virtual Laboratory and Imaging: an online simulation tool to enhance hospital disaster preparedness training experience

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ObjectiveHospitals play a pivotal role as basic healthcare providers during mass casualty incidents (MCIs). Radiological studies and emergency laboratory test are of high importance for the management of hospital patients. However, it is known that during these events, they can generate significant bottlenecks. Appropriate request of such tests is of utmost importance to not generate delays in the patient flow. The aim of this paper is to describe a software designed to increase the realism of hospital-based MCI training through a realistic reproduction of radiology and laboratory departments.MethodsIn this paper, we present a Virtual Laboratory and Imaging system that we designed with the goal of increasing the realism of full-scale mass casualty simulations. The system is able to dynamically manage the speed and load of virtual departments while collecting data on usage and load, and provide data useful for the after-event debriefing. We tested this system in two pilot simulations involving, respectively, 105 and 89 simulated casualties.ResultsThe system, by measuring the number of requests and exams’ turnaround time, enabled an objective measurement of the laboratory and radiology workload during simulated MCIs. It was possible to identify bottlenecks and consequently use these data for after-action debriefing.ConclusionThe tool not only increased the simulation realism by adding the radiology and laboratory departments but also provided valuable data that could be used for educational and organizational purposes.

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