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Simulated Mortality—We Can Do More

An Imperative for Educators

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2017


High-fidelity simulation (HFS) is a relatively new teaching modality, which is gaining widespread acceptance in medical education. To date, dozens of studies have proven the usefulness of HFS in improving student, resident, and attending physician performance, with similar results in the allied health fields. Although many studies have analyzed the utility of simulation, few have investigated why it works. A recent study illustrated that permissive failure, leading to simulated mortality, is one HFS method that can improve long-term performance. Critics maintain, however, that the use of simulated death is troubling and excessive. Given the controversy regarding simulated death, we consider the data about the educational value and the emotional harms associated with them, expecting that evidence could be useful in resolving the question. The goal of this narrative review is to explore the argument against simulated mortality and provide educators with an imperative as to why it can be safely utilized.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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All funding for this study was received from the Department of Anesthesiology for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY.



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