USF Health Simulation Center at Tampa General Hospital opens

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Tampa, FL (March 2, 2009) – The University of South Florida this week held the grand opening of its comprehensive USF Health Simulation Center at Tampa General Hospital – the only one of its kind in the Southeast, university officials say. The new $1.5-million, 2,800-square-foot facility is expected to draw physicians and other health professionals from across the state and nationally to learn and practice advanced techniques for a wide range of medical procedures and to hone critical clinical decision-making skills – all in a realistic environment without risk to patients.

USF-TGH physicians and nurses and community physicians and healthcare leaders were invited March 2 to 4 to tour the new center and try out the simulators.

The new advanced clinical training center houses more than a half-dozen simulators that mimic the look and feel of minimally-invasive surgical procedures.

The center houses more than $600,000 worth of virtual-reality simulators that mimic the look and feel of actual endovascular and surgical procedures such as cardiac catheterizations, laparoscopic hernia repairs, laparoscopic hysterectomies or colonoscopies. The apprenticeship model of “see one, do one, teach one,” has been stretched by advances in surgical technology and the development of minimally-invasive techniques that spare patients major surgery and shorten recoveries. Computer-based simulation complements traditional training by helping health professionals gain hands-on experience before performing complex procedures or using new devices on real patients in operating rooms and other clinical settings.

“With this new center, USF Health is truly at the forefront of the evolution in clinical and surgical training,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO for USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine. “In partnership with Tampa General Hospital and several of the world’s leading innovators of advanced simulation technology, we have created a center that emphasizes patient safety, reducing medical errors and improving efficiency. All this is directed toward achieving our ultimate goal – better patient care.”

“This collaborative partnership will bring increased prominence to Tampa as one of the major medical centers in the United States committed to the improvement of patient health in a safe clinical environment,” said Ron Hytoff, CEO of Tampa General Hospital.

The USF Health Simulation Center at TGH, available to all healthcare facilities and professionals in Florida, is positioned to have a major impact on the quality of care in the state, said Deborah Sutherland, PhD, associate vice president for Continuing Professional Development at USF Health.

“What makes this center unique in the Southeast is the comprehensive variety of high-end surgical and interventional simulators that can be used by students, residents and practicing healthcare professionals,” Dr. Sutherland said. “This allows for individual training in complex, high-risk procedures and team training for managing challenging patient cases in areas like the cardiac catheterization lab, operating room, critical care and emergency department.”

A growing body of evidence indicates that simulation shortens the learning curve for mastering technical skills and is valuable in measuring how well surgical teams solve problems when confronted with complications such as abnormal bleeding, heart attacks or strokes, or anatomical obstacles. Boards that certify physician specialists have expressed increased interest in using simulation to help assess and maintain the clinical competence of their members.

The Simulation Center also houses a Surgical Skills Laboratory with five fully-equipped stations, where physicians can practice minimally-invasive procedures. In the coming months, the Center plans to open a 4-D Ultrasound Center where physicians can learn the latest real-time imaging technology for diagnosing and assessing pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and vaginal, uterine or bladder prolapse.

USF is working with the following companies in developing the USF Health Simulation Center at Tampa General Hospital: GE Medical Systems, Laerdal, Olympus, Simulab Corp., SimSuite Medical Simulation Corporation, Stryker, Simbionix and VirtaMed.

– About USF Health –

USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of medicine, nursing, and public health; the schools of biomedical sciences as well as physical therapy & rehabilitation sciences; and the USF Physicians Group. With more than $360 million in research grants and contracts last year, USF is one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

-About Tampa General Hospital –

Tampa General is a 958-bed acute care hospital on the west coast of Florida that serves as the region’s only center for level I trauma care, comprehensive burn care and adult solid organ transplants. It is the primary teaching hospital for the University of South Florida College of Medicine. TGH is also one of only 10 comprehensive stroke centers in Florida and is a state-certified spinal cord and head injury rehabilitation center.

Related stories:

St. Petersburg Times, March 5, 2009, “New USF life-like simulators respond like patients in surgery”

USF Magazine, Winter 2009, “Clinical Practice”