University using sophisticated mannequins to teach doctors without hurting patients

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There are patients at the University of Kentucky Medical Center who may cause you to take a second look because they aren't human.

But they are about as close as you can get. Real doctors and students treat and operate on the mock patients.

The patients, or mannequins, take up a small corner of the hospital. There's a pregnant mannequin in a delivery room, another mannequin in an Intensive care bed, one in a regular hospital room and one in an operating room.

Dr. Zaki Hassan says the UK Simulation Center is state of the art. There's only a handful like it in the country.

"We do a scenario in the room. We videotape it. We play it back, and we go through and look at the scenario and see what can be improved, all in a safe environment because the patient is not compromised." Hassan said. "You range from somebody who wants basic life support to what we call 'crisis resource management' where we reproduce a whole scenario in the operating room, in the ICU, in a regular room bay, for example."

The idea of teaching doctors and students on the mannequins is much like flight simulators, Dr. Hassan explained.

"Sometimes you have a patient with a rare condition that you only see once every ten or fifteen years. How often are you going to see that? But you can recreate that scenario so they're prepared for it," Hassan said.

The mannequins aren't cheap. The one set up in the operating room cost $250,000.

"It's probably the closest you can get to reproducing physiology in a patient," Hassan said. "It recognizes drugs, concentration and volume and actually that drug will stay on board until it's metabolized by the mannequin. So if you keep giving other drugs, the mannequin will recognize you've given the drugs and it will metabolize appropriately."

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