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ABIM Interventional Cardiology Simulations Effective in Differentiating Novice vs. Skilled Physicians, According to New Research


Philadelphia, PA, May 14, 2010 – Research published in the April issue of The Journal of Simulation in Healthcare demonstrates the potential for high-fidelity simulations to be used in assessing physician performance as an approach to improving patient safety. The analysis, led by researchers at the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), found that simulations can be used to identify physicians who are extremely poor performers and may not be providing appropriate patient care.

The research examined the results of sophisticated mannequin simulators that electronically record detailed operator's actions and the patient’s state using interventional cardiology simulated cases with 115 physicians at three levels of expertise – novice, skilled or expert. The evaluation of performance of the physician effectively distinguished the novice group from the skilled and expert group. The cases and scoring methodology used in the study were developed by a panel of interventional cardiology experts, with technical assistance from Medical Simulation Corporation.

Interventional cardiology, a subspecialty of cardiology and internal medicine, deals specifically with the catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Interventional cardiologists in the United States perform more than one million procedures per year, many of them highly complex.

The case scenarios evaluated physicians' technical and cognitive skills around specific competencies needed to practice interventional cardiology, including stent positioning. The simulations also introduced unexpected complications, such as coronary perforation. The subjects completed a questionnaire, one practice case and six test cases on Medical Simulation Corporation's SimSuite® simulators to evaluate their experience. Approximately 90 percent of the study participants thought that the cases were well simulated and presented situations encountered in practice.

“ABIM continues to look for authentic and rigorous ways to assess physician performance as part of the Maintenance of Certification program,” said Rebecca Lipner, Vice President for Psychometrics and Research Analysis. “This pilot project demonstrates the potential for ABIM to use high-fidelity simulations in physician assessments.”

ABIM offers simulations for interventional cardiologists at Medical Simulation Corporation's SimSuite® education centers, and several society meetings and conferences each year.

The study, available in the research section of ABIM's website, is one of a number of studies that are available for physicians, patients and policy makers for education and quality of health care improvement. The research and resources available on ABIM's website include:

For media inquiries, contact Lorie Slass at 215-399-4005 or press@abim.org.

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Internists and subspecialists who earn and maintain board certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) differentiate themselves every day through their specialized knowledge and commitment to continual learning in service of their patients. Established as an independent nonprofit more than 80 years ago, ABIM continues to be driven by doctors who want to achieve higher standards for better care in a rapidly changing world. Visit ABIM's blog to learn more and follow ABIM on Facebook and Twitter. ABIM is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties.