Middlesex University has invested in five Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets which will allow student nurses to work in a virtual ward and train to spot sepsis in patients.

The Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) headsets can digitally recreate scenarios that nurses would face while on the job.

Using the headsets, students are taken into an interactive, immersive digital hospital ward, in which they questions patients, diagnose their condition and decide the proper course of treatment.

The headsets offer 20 different scenarios, including patients experiencing difficulty breathing, diabetes and severe allergic reactions.

One simulation has a patient with sepsis, the body’s physiological response to the infection and clinical presentation.

Commenting on the headsets, Middlesex University midwifery educator Sarah Chitongo said: “Sepsis is one of the key scenarios because it is a time critical condition. You have an hour to ensure that the diagnosis is made and appropriate prescribed antibiotics are administered as every hour delay increases the patients mortality rate by 8 per cent.”

“Sepsis destroys internal vital organs. One of the first clinical indications is looking at the patient’s clinical presentation. Sepsis patients will display visible signs and this technology recreates the typical indicators such as patches of discoloured skin, shivers, sleepy or difficult to rouse and shortness of breath.”

Following the virtual experience, students can receive personalised feedback and grading, which utilise an analytics engine to help evaluate their efforts.

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