BACKGROUND: Our goal was to determine whether simulation combined with didactic training improves sterile technique during ultrasound (US)-guided central venous catheter (CVC) insertion compared with didactic training alone among novices. We hypothesized that novices who receive combined didactic and simulation-based training would perform similarly to experienced residents in aseptic technique, knowledge, and perception of comfort during US-guided CVC insertion on a simulator. METHODS: Seventy-two subjects were enrolled in a randomized, controlled trial of an educational intervention. Fifty-four novices were randomized into either the didactic group or the simulation combined with didactic group. Both groups received didactic training but the simulation combined with didactic group also received simulation-based CVC insertion training. Both groups were tested by demonstrating US-guided CVC insertion on a simulator. Aseptic technique was scored on 8 steps as "yes/no" and also using a 7-point Likert scale with 7 being "excellent technique" by a rater blinded to subject randomization. After initial testing, the didactic group was offered simulation-based training and retesting. Both groups also took a pre- and posttraining test of knowledge and rated their comfort with US and CVC insertion pre- and posttraining on a 5-point Likert scale. Subsequently, 18 experienced residents also took the test of knowledge, rated their comfort level, and were scored while performing aseptic US-guided CVC insertion using a simulator. RESULTS: The simulation combined with didactic group achieved a 167% (95% confidence interval [CI] 133%-167%) incremental increase in yes/no scores and 115% (CI 112%-127%) incremental increase in Likert scale ratings on aseptic technique compared with novices in the didactic group. Compared with experienced residents, simulation combined with didactic trained novices achieved an increase in aseptic scores with a 33.3% (CI 16.7%-50%) increase in yes/no ratings and a 20% (CI 13.3%-40%) increase in Likert scaled ratings, and scored 2.5-fold higher on the test of knowledge. There was a 3-fold increase in knowledge and 2-fold increase in comfort level among all novices (P < 0.001) after combined didactic and simulation-based training. CONCLUSION: Simulation combined with didactic training is superior to didactic training alone for acquisition of clinical skills such as US-guided CVC insertion. After combined didactic and simulation-based training, novices can outperform experienced residents in aseptic technique as well as in measurements of knowledge.
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