Iraqi doctors learning ER system at University of Toledo




TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — In the war-torn country of Iraq, hospital emergency departments are slow to deliver medical care and nurses are not empowered to jump in and help patients immediately.

Two doctors from a large academic hospital in Iraq will be training at the University of Toledo Medical College over the next three weeks. Their goal is to become pioneers and use what they learn here to fundamentally change the culture in ERs across their home country, said Dr. Qusay Al Obaidi, a surgeon and faculty member at Kufa University in Iraq.

Iraqi hospitals have emergency departments but "our system is old fashioned system," Dr. Al Obaidi said.

The hospitals there do not use a team approach and nurses and other staff must wait for a doctor to first see a patient and give them orders before they start treatment, he said.

"In a nutshell they have no real system at all for emergency medicine," said Dr. Kris Brickman, chairman of UT's Department of Emergency Medicine.

"People walk in and somebody decides they are either a surgical problem or a medical problem. They have no training in emergency medicine," said Dr. Brickman who is also director the university's global health program.

Dr. Al Obaidi and Dr. Saad Mijbad will be the first two emergency doctors in Iraq once they complete the month-long UT program, he said.

Much of their training is taking place at the University's Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center. This is where medical students go through a variety of lifelike scenarios they could encounter in an ER, said Dr. Paul Rega, assistant professor of public health.

It's better for the students to make their mistakes on the training dummies than on a real person, he said. The Iraqi doctors, who have been in Toledo a little more than a week, have already gone through several medical simulations with the students, Dr. Rega said.

By the time they leave, the doctors will have completed more than 100 hours of simulations, he said.

The doctors also spend a portion of each day in the ER at UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, Dr. Brickman said. They also will spend time with Toledo area Emergency Medical Service officials learning about how patients are treated and transported to the hospital, he said.

"They don't have that in Iraq either," Dr. Brickman said.

"The whole system is amazing," said Dr. Al Obaidi, referring to the UTMC ER. "I think if it is applied in our country there's a great jump in the health care," he said.

It will also save the life of critical patients, he added.

The planning for this collaboration between UT and Kufa University began several years before Iraq became embroiled in its current military conflict with the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Dr. Brickman said.

When ISIS moved in, however, the project came to a halt about three years ago. After a year of waiting for the situation to improve, Dr. Brickman and the dean of the medical school in Iraq decided to try to move forward with planning the training.

Dr. Brickman said he was concerned that UT might miss an opportunity and that a larger health system, like the Cleveland Clinic, would offer to train the Iraqi physicians if they waited for ISIS to move out of Iraq.

"So I said if I wait for the smoke to clear there won't be anything left for the University of Toledo," he said.

One of the obstacles was money. The Iraqi government had frozen all spending at universities so the officials at Kufa had to do some fund-raising to cover the cost of the program, he said.

Each doctor is paying UT about $10,000 for the ER training, which is just covering the costs, Dr. Brickman said.

"It's gonna be critical that we follow these guys," he said.

Dr. Brickman is planning to take a team of medical professional from UTMC to the Kufa University hospital in Najaf next spring. Najaf is south of Baghdad in an area that is not occupied by ISIS, he said.

He hopes this exchange between the two countries will help improve medical care in Iraq.

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Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/
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