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Last year a nurse was stabbed by a knife-wielding patient at a New South Wales hospital in an incident that unions say could have cost a life. It is one of many examples that have prompted the creation of Angry Stan, an abusive virtual hospital visitor that is being used to teach future nurses skills to identify volatile patients and try to deal with them before they resort to violence.
Co-creator Donovan Jones, said he and University of Newcastle colleague Michael Hazelton, used their backgrounds in emergency department violence to come up with the realistic virtual scenario that sees Stan involved in a car accident, and entering a virtual emergency department, potentially injured and in shock.
“Students actually have a heart rate monitor on that affects the game so the more they stress out the harder it is for Stan to do the right things,” he said.
“Whether it be in an emergency department, a birthing environment, a theatre or in the back of a taxi, they need to stay clam, they need to breathe and understand what the person’s saying and respond appropriately.”
Mia Petrou, a second-year nursing student who has keen on working in paediatrics took part in the training and admitted the idea of facing abuse when dealing with families who were upset “definitely” preyed on her mind.
After strapping on the goggles Mia said she was startled by Stan’s aggression and despite being encouraged to stay calm, she realised her response [text on the screen] to Stan was highlighted in red, a sign she was getting stressed.
“It did go red quite a bit it sort of shows how real the situation is, it plays on your real emotions,” she said.
“He’s very real looking. The way he was speaking and the way he was moving and the facial expressions.
“It made we feel like wow, I have to do something.”
Fellow nursing student Matthew Stern, who has previously served in the Australian Defence Force, said he was forced to call for security when Stan got out of hand.
“It’s really chaotic you’re trying to help one person, and you’re getting call bells rung constantly, people yelling at you to help them so you really have to prioritise,” he said.
“My heart rate was elevated therefore he was more stressed and actually he [Angry Stan] was a lot more aggressive towards me.”