Responding to to Medical Emergencies in Space

Responding to to Medical Emergencies in Space
Center for Surgery and Public Health

Earth and space may be vastly different settings, but they share a common need: clinically trained staff who can skillfully respond to medical emergencies. A multidisciplinary team including members of the CSPH’s Surgical Culture program are venturing outside of their usual orbit to develop a tool that can help astronaut crews respond to medical emergencies in deep space.

Steven Yule, PhD and an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the STRATUS Center and BWH’s Center for Surgery and Public Health, as well as experts from other institutions, are now developing and assessing a non-technical skills training program for astronauts to manage a medical event on human-exploration missions to Mars, near-Earth asteroids or the moon. The team – which recently received a $400,000 grant from NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute to fund the project – consists of experts in training and simulation, human factors, emergency medicine and surgery.

The first part of the project involved identifying and assessing which skills are essential for astronaut crews for responding to in-flight medical emergencies effectively, with the goals of enhancing proficiency, reducing errors and improving patient outcomes. The second part of the project was to create a simulated spacecraft medical bay in the STRATUS Center and film a series of simulation scenarios to evaluate the validity and reliability of the assessment tool.

Dr. Yule is optimistic that this project will help identify and assess which skills are essential for astronaut crews for medical event management in space so that they can enhance proficiency, reduce performance errors and realize optimal patient outcomes during space missions to maximize mission success.