Training to Help Patients and Workers

Whether it's ergonomics training, safety training, or training on how to use a piece of equipment most effectively, every job is made more efficient with a little hands-on practice. But how many people are willing to be the hands-on part of training for future surgeons?

Thanks to new technology, now no one needs to be. Instead, future doctors can tweak their technique before they ever see a real patient.

They're using virtual patients: mannequins that, according to a CNN.com report, come complete with injectible veins, movable eyes, pulses, beating hearts and breathing lungs. Some can even be programmed to simulate medical crises and respond appropriately to the doctor's treatment. The "patients'" conditions can improve, or worsen, depending upon decisions that are made by the doctors. And medical residents report that the mannequins are so lifelike that the doctors have even been known to start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when a "patient" falters, as a last resort.

Medical errors, often associated with ergonomics-preventable issues like work schedules, workplace conditions, or even an over-worked industry, are rapidly becoming the focus of more and more studies and projects that set out to improve both patient and worker safety in healthcare facilities. For example, the studies have already shown that surgical residents who train on virtual patients both make fewer errors and work faster than residents who learned the traditional way