Game on: Don a mask and play your role

How do you think patients' family members would fare in game in which they assume the identity of a character in a computer-based video simulation that calls for key decisions to ensure infection prevention? They can find out by playing "Partnering to Heal" at http://www.hhs.gov/partneringtoheal.

Based upon their avatar's decisions, the training branches to different pathways and patient outcomes. The training is designed and developed for use by individuals as a self-paced learning tool and by groups in facilitated training sessions.

The training highlights effective communication about infection control practices and what it means to help create a "culture of safety" in healthcare institutions. Trainees follow five main characters and make decisions about preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These include a patient's family member, a physician, a nurse, an infection preventionist, and a medical student.

The training includes information on basic protocols for isolation precautions to protect patients, visitors, and practitioners from the most common HAIs. Viewers learn how the characters can contribute to, or prevent, risk of surgical site infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

In addition to communication and teamwork, the interactive sessions promote key hand hygiene and proper insertion, use, and removal of catheters and ventilators. The training is designed to increase knowledge, alter attitudes, and shift the behaviors of clinicians and patients by focusing on principles of teamwork, communication, hand washing, flu vaccination, and the appropriate use of antibiotics and medical devices.