Does the use of a Digital Cognitive Aid by Combat Casualty Care Providers improved Performance during Field Training of Simulated Crises?

Research Paper Title

Use of a Digital Cognitive Aid in the Early Management of Simulated War Wounds in a Combat Environment, a Randomized Trial.

Background

The French army has implemented an algorithm based on the acronym “MARCHE RYAN,” each letter standing for a key action to complete in order to help first care providers during emergency casualty care.

On the battlefield, the risk of error is increased, and the use of cognitive aids (CAs) might be helpful to avoid distraction.

The researchers investigated the effect of using a digital CA (MAX, for Medical Assistance eXpert) by combat casualty care providers on their technical and nontechnical performances during the early management of simulated war wounds, compared to their memory and training alone.

Methods

The researchers conducted a randomised, controlled, unblinded study between July 2016 and February 2017.

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Ethical Board of Desgenettes Army Training Hospital (14.06.2017 n°385) and was registered on clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03483727).

It took place during medicalisation training in hostile environment (“MEDICHOS”) in Chamonix Mont-Blanc and in the first aid training center in La Valbonne military base (France).

Each participant had to deal with two different scenarios, one with MAX (MAX+) and the other without (MAX-). Scenarios were held using either high-fidelity patient simulators or actors as wounded patients. The primary outcome was participants’ technical performance rated as their adherence to the MARCHE RYAN procedure (maximum 100%).

The secondary outcome was the nontechnical performance according to the Ottawa crisis resource management Global Rating Scale (maximum 42).

Results

Technical performance was significantly higher in the MAX+ scenarios (70.60 IQR [63.70-73.56] than in the MAX- scenarios (56.25 IQR [52.88-62.09], p = 0.002).

The Ottawa scores were significantly higher in the MAX+ scenarios (31.50 IQR [29.50-33.75]) than in the MAX- scenarios (29.50 IQR [24.50-32.00], p = 0.031).

Conclusions

The use of a digital CA by combat casualty care providers improved technical and nontechnical performances during field training of simulated crises.

Following recommendations on the design and use of CA, regular team training would improve fluidity in the use and acceptance of an aid, by a highly drilled professional corporation with a strong culture of leadership.

Digital CA should be tested at a larger scale in order to validate their contribution to real combat casualty care.

Reference

Truchot, M., Balanca, B., Wey, P.F., Tazaroute, K., Lecomte, F., Le Goff, A., Lehot, J.J., Rimmele, T. & Cejka, J.C. (2020) Use of a Digital Cognitive Aid in the Early Management of Simulated War Wounds in a Combat Environment, a Randomized Trial. Military Medicine. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usz482. Online ahead of print.

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