Aug. 17 - Junior doctors in the UK are being trained to deal with late-stage emergency caesareans using a novel approach with a life-like pregnancy simulator. Called ''Desperate Debra' the simulator is designed to replicate a real woman in distress during a procedure that affects around 20,000 births a year in Britain. Matt Stock report.
Getting to grips with the latest innovation in obstetrics. Her name is Desperate Debra - a first-of-its-kind simulator training doctors here at London's St Thomas' hospital in dealing with late-stage emergency caesareans. The life-like pregnancy simulator replicates a real woman in distress during a procedure that affects around 20,000 births a year in Britain. Professor Andrew Shennan is part of the team who developed 'Desperate Debra' - so named to reflect the potential seriousness of her situation. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREW SHENNAN, PROFESSOR OF OBSTETRICS AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT GUYS' AND ST THOMAS' NHS FOUNDATION TRUST, SAYING: "Across the board maybe one-in-three women now are getting a caesarean and a majority of those are emergency - meaning they're done during labour." And frequently, they're done at night when senior doctors aren't always available. Nicola Vousden is one of the trainees learning first-hand what an emergency C-section entails. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICOLA VOUSDEN, TRAINEE DOCTOR, SAYING: "Having a simulation model where you can practice it in a very safe environment I think is a great thing because that situation definitely does arise where junior doctors haven't got the support around them that they need and they're in a difficult situation." Desperate Debra simulates how a baby's head may get stuck in the pelvis because the mother is in the advanced stages of labour. The head needs to first be freed from impaction in the pelvis before delivery - but the sheer force needed carries the risk of injuring both mother and baby. CLOSE OF VOUSDEN STRUGGLING TO FREE THE IMPACTED BABY / PAN DOWN TO HER HAND INSIDE ABDOMEN AND EVENTUALLY BRINGING OUT THE BABY / SHENNAN SAYS: "That was on the easier setting." (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICOLA VOUSDEN, TRAINEE DOCTOR, SAYING: "It's really hard work. I don't know if you could see my arm shaking on the camera, I felt a bit like my fingers might break. My arm is quite tired. I don't think I could do it more than a couple of times. So I was quite surprised by that." (SOUNDBITE) (English) GABRIEL OGWO, PRODUCT AND PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT MANAGER FROM ADAM,ROUILLY, SAYING: "We came up with this design and everybody was happy with the way it looked, the way it felt. The touch, the feel." Gabirel Ogwo from manufacturers Adam,Rouilly says the difficulty of delivery can be adjusted by a series of levers and dials. The baby's head replicates the soft tissue of an infant's skull - teaching the degree of force needed for freeing the baby without harming mother or child. Professor Shennan - who himself has delivered thousands of babies - says Desperate Debra is a crucial training tool now more than ever with caesareans on the rise. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREW SHENNAN, PROFESSOR OF OBSTETRICS AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT GUYS' AND ST THOMAS' NHS FOUNDATION TRUST, SAYING: "Well we know across the board that caesareans are increasing everywhere. And also these difficult caesareans are increasing with a trend towards not attempting assisted vaginal deliveries. So it doesn't matter where you go - where there are women having babies this simulator has the potential to assist and aid safe practice." And with junior doctors able to get as much practice as they need, there's every expectation that Desperate Debra will serve as an effective model for successful caesarean deliveries in the real world.