Abigail Wooldridge Receives 3 HCESC Grants

Maddie Kuhl

ISE and Wooldridge are advancing the science of Human Factors and Ergonomics through our partnership with the Health Care Engineering Systems Center (HCESC). Wooldridge will be working on 3 projects through Jump ARCHES endowments.

The first of which is a study on the transition from the operating room (OR) to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Wooldridge will be leading this project with Dr. Paul Jeziorczak, a pediatric surgeon at OSF healthcare. During the transition, information about patient care is communicated between one set of care givers to another in a handoff; this exchange is a complex and essential interaction where a miscommunication can have negative consequences for the patient’s care.

In this project, the team will simulate a real handoff with multiple clinicians using the Jump ARCHES facility. “The surgical team, including anesthesia, surgeons and nurses, [is] going to simulate taking a pediatric trauma patient who has a penetrating chest trauma to the PICU,” Wooldridge said. “We can look at things like who spends the most time talking [and] what order people talk in. These are measures that have been explored a lot in military research.” Many kinds of data will be collected during the simulation, including recordings of communication and eye tracking, which the team will then analyze to develop new measures of handoffs.

“We’re going to try and train the software in order to do the coding for us. If we’re able to do that, then in the future we can provide some feedback more quickly to hand-off participants,” Wooldridge said. “Imagine it being used to train clinicians about how to improve non-technical skills, like communication, that have been increasingly emphasized as important but proved challenging to provide feedback on.”

The second project Wooldridge will be working on as the primary engineering investigator tackles the issue of code carts and lack of training. She will be working with Dr. Trina Croland, a pediatric hospitalist. When a patient experiences cardiac arrest, clinicians must act quickly to save them. During that resuscitation, they use a code cart stocked with medications and supplies to support quick action.

However, clinicians may not be familiar with where specific items are on that cart, in part due to lack of experience with fully stocked carts in training.

“This team, which includes some engineers at the simulation center through OSF and clinicians, came up with this really bright idea: why don’t we use augmented reality to address that problem of ‘we can’t keep a fully stocked code cart for training,’” Wooldridge said.

While the app itself may help to improve the patient care, it also poses questions for the future of learning in the healthcare system.

“We no longer have an educator and the learners interacting together, collocated in time and space,” Wooldridge said. “That could have a really big impact on this system of learning.”

The final project aims to develop a computer-based guidance system to provide a step-by-step process for diagnosing and treating infants with sepsis. Wooldridge will be working with OSF clinicians, including Dr. Richard Pearl, among other UIUC faculty throughout this project. They include: Lui Sha, Poliang Wu, Maryam Rahmaniheris, Kesh Kesavadas and Pavithra Rajeswaran.

“Anyone whose driven through Illinois has seen the all of the billboards about pediatric sepsis. Sepsis is a very serious medical condition that often results in death,” Wooldridge said. “Treatment and detection of pediatric sepsis in particular can be very challenging.”

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 3 million newborns and 1.2 million children are affected by sepsis each year. Anyone with an infection can be diagnosed with sepsis, but certain demographics, such as children, are more susceptible.

When clinicians and engineers collaborate, Wooldridge said, “we actually get the perspectives of the science and the people who live it every day, which helps make our solution stronger and more useful and more impactful.” 

Recent News

The ocean waters of the United States may one day be populated by floating wind turbines, but they might look less like windmills and more like the oversized egg beaters — that will generate renewable energy from strong winds blowing across the oceans