“Black Box” for the Operating Suite

Ann Willemsen-Dunlap

Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center

willemsen-dunlapToday’s hospitals are highly complex, high-risk systems in which threats to patient and operational safety are constant, and where errors occur all too often. The purpose of this research program is to discover how and what portions of a comprehensive Risk Assessment and Management System (RAMS) developed by the USAF Global Air Mobility Command (AMC) must be modified in order to develop a similar program for use in the acute perioperative care setting.

Dr. Willemsen-Dunlap has proposed a risk assessment and management system that the planning team has termed an “integrated System for Trending, Optimization, and Risk Management” (iSTORM). The aims of the project in the first phase would be to prototype and then develop the full iSTORM program for incremental implementation across the institution. Its features would embody:

  1. Just culture principles (which have a long, challenging history in both aviation and healthcare)
  2. A holistic approach to quality and safety
  3. Robust data collection (involving disparate sources)
  4. Sophisticated data analysis of vastly different data sets with a formal review
  5. Organizational processes to assign required actions & provide a feedback loop

The project will include a near real-time and, eventually, a real-time assessment of Operational Risk Management (ORM) for use in the operating room environment. Currently, no such ORM system is available. It is anticipated that such a system could be successfully modified for implementation in other areas of the hospital.



Ann Willemsen-Dunlap, Ph.D., CRNA, is the Director of Interprofessional Education at the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center. In that role, she works to develop simulation-based interprofessional education for healthcare professions students and for practicing clinicians with all levels of experience. She is also actively involved in faculty development, preparing healthcare providers from various professions to teach in the simulation setting. Dr. Willemsen-Dunlap is a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) who continues to practice anesthesia part-time at OSF. She completed her doctoral training in Science Education at the University of Iowa; while there, she became involved with simulation, developing complementary interests in educational measurement and human factors. She is a member of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society in Nursing.