Safety is key when performing simulation training - VHA SimLEARN
Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.



Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge

Safety is key when performing simulation training

By Sherri Boisvert, PhD., MSN, RN
and Michelle Regragui MSHS, BSN, RN
Simulation Outreach Network Simulation Nurse Educators
VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Safety, remains in the forefront of health care, including health care simulation education. In 2019 and 2020, the Simulation Learning Education and Research Network (SimLEARN) and SimLEARN’s Simulation Outreach Network (SON) hosted the Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPH&M) conference.

During the simulation scenarios a new concept was tested involving the simple use of a yellow safety vest. The vests were utilized by the SPH&M participants involved in the role of safety officers. The safety officers were charged with ensuring safety of the simulations. Instructions provided prior to each session focused on the importance of their role while wearing the vests.

The safety officer role included the tasks of listening, watching and being on alert for any safety issues during the simulations. The safety officers were given a safe word to be used in the event of any unsafe or potentially unsafe activities. The safe word of “halt” was utilized during the simulations to alert all participants involved in the simulations about potential safety concerns. The idea of using a safe word is to pause the scenario and allow all participates to come back to reality. This pause allows for safety concerns to be addressed. Participants can also become confused during simulation immersion about knowing what is real. Therefore, safety can be compromised for all participating in the simulation. The yellow safety vest, in combination with the use of a safe word served as ques, increasing attention to safety. The addition of a safety officer wearing a yellow safety vest increased the organization’s principles of high reliability, such as preoccupation with failure. 

Responses from the safety officer participants revealed an empowerment to protect their colleagues and increased awareness of safety in the role. The SPH&M conference offered many nurses, therapists and facility coordinators the opportunity to use different equipment than what they normally use.  The conference, along with the safety officer role, was identified as a success, based on debriefing and after-action reviews. The safety role officer will be implemented in future SPH&M conferences. Safety remains at the forefront even in simulation experiences. 


Sollid, S., Dieckman, P., Aase, K., Søreide, E., Ringsted, C., Østergaard, D. (2019). Five topics health care simulation can address to improve patient safety: Results from a consensus process. Journal of Patient Safety, 15(2), p 111-120. http://dx.doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000254