Programmed to die

A life-size ‘mock patient’, who can talk, wheeze, groan and bleed, is the centrepiece of a new suite of teaching laboratories unveiled at Medway School of Pharmacy.

A life-size “mock patient”, who can talk, wheeze, groan and bleed, is the centrepiece of a new suite of teaching laboratories recently unveiled at Medway School of Pharmacy, which is based in the UK on the Universities at Medway campus near Chatham Maritime.

£1 million has been invested in laboratories for Medway School of Pharmacy, which is a joint project of the universities of Kent and Greenwich.

Costing over £30,000, the computer-controlled mannequin, known as ‘Sim Man’ is the first such training tool to be used in any pharmacy school in the UK. Trainee pharmacists use the realistic model to get hands-on experience of professional skills such as taking blood, putting in a drip and seeing how patients respond to drugs.

Professor Clare Mackie, Head of Medway School of Pharmacy, explains: “’Sim Man’ can talk to students, letting them know that a particular treatment hurts him, for example. He can also display the symptoms of a wide range of cardiac and respiratory illnesses such as heart attack, bronchitis and pneumonia. He reacts to students’ attempts to treat him and he can even be programmed to ‘die’ and then respond to resuscitation attempts.”

“Sim Man” is an inpatient on a mock hospital ward, part of the new Clinical Skills Laboratory at Medway School of Pharmacy. This is fully-equipped with real hospital beds, curtains and examination couches. Also resident in the lab is a different type of body: a full-sized skeleton, packed with removable organs, including the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys.

Cameras film students working in the laboratories, so tutors can later help them to review their performance.