Johns Hopkins Medicine Leads Online Ebola Learning Module Development

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Johns Hopkins Medicine has been tasked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead a group designing an interactive web-based learning program that will guide healthcare workers, nurses and physicians through government-approved protocols to aid clinicians as they care for patients who may be at risk of contracting the Ebola virus.

The program will train healthcare providers in three critical areas: proper donning of personal protective equipment, the safe removal of gear, and active monitoring skills. All three modules will be available for free on the CDC’s website in the coming weeks and later available to iOS users on iTunes U, the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content.

“People in general are so scared with Ebola, and they don’t understand how hard it can be to take on and off this protective equipment,” said Sandy Swoboda, an intensive care nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a simulation educator and clinical researcher with the Johns Hopkins schools of Medicine and Nursing. “To an untrained eye, it looks easy, but there are specific procedures and steps that you have to follow. A misstep can lead to a potentially negative health outcome.”

For example, elements such as limited space in a hospital room or even the anxiety and exhaustion of the healthcare workers can further complicate intensive situations. Using a variety of human factors and safety engineering methods, the team is identifying potential safety failures in the donning and doffing of protective gear and risk factors that could lead to contamination.

Module scripts highlight these risks and how to mitigate them to make it easier for clinicians to comply with CDC guidelines in a real situation. These instructions are then tested in a simulation center, where novices and experts replicate the guidelines described. Revised and corrected steps are then filmed.

“People are visual learners,” said Ayse Gurses, a human factors engineer and patient safety faculty member with the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and project leader for the group behind the modules’ development. “To be efficient and effective, information must be presented contextually as well as visually to engage healthcare workers and help them retain the information for use in real-world situations when working with patients.”

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