AMRSim: a microbial reality simulator

We have developed a tailored training intervention for vet practitioners and their staff, comprising a digital tool, educational content, and an interactive mode of presentation and delivery. Training is delivered, in-practice, within 30 minute sessions.

The digital tool is an interactive, 3D, monochrome graphical simulator of the indoor environment of a veterinary practice within which humans, animals, and bacteria interact according to rules observed from real-life. The 3D modelled scenes allow complete control over viewpoint, with options to control camera angle and zoom in/out.

During the training session, the trainer switches on and off a coloured (pink) 'contamination' layer showing the potential transfer of bacteria in a sequence of procedures during the preparation for surgery. This allows these normally invisible bacteria to be 'seen' as they spread through the indoor environment on people, animals and surfaces. The trainer also shows the impact of infection control measures via green-coloured elements which can be switched on/off for each of the stages in the procedure.

Our research has allowed us to test the theory that as practitioners interact with the tool, both in its development and then in its application, they can gain a greater appreciation for: 1) the impact their behaviours and activities can have on infection; 2) where weaknesses lie in current practice; and 3) where changes made to the way people and animals interact with each other and their environment can disrupt the status quo.

Thus, by 'seeing' the interactions of animals, humans, and bacteria within space and through time it may be possible to improve efforts to prevent bacteria entering and spreading through the physical environment, and to improve their removal when they do. This may lead to a reduced risk of bacterial contamination and infection and, ultimately, to reduced reliance on antibiotics.

The tool is conceived as having three layers: layer 1, a monochrome layer, which provided a set of sequences carried out in the pre-surgical stage and showing the actions and interactions of three human and a canine avatar within the preparation area; layer 2, the 'contamination' layer, showing the potential transfer of microbes during the sequence of procedures in the preparation stage and which could be switched on and off; layer 3, the infection and prevention control (IPC), which again could be switched on and off.

Screenshot from tool showing layer 1

Layer 1 showing the pre-surgical procedure with in-built risky behaviours.

Screenshot from tool showing layer 2

Layer 2 'switched on' to show transfer of 'invisible' contamination between animal, veterinary staff, surfaces and equipment during a pre-surgical procedure if proper infection control methods are not being observed.

Screenshot from tool showing layer 1 with IPCs

Layer 3 'switched on' showing IPC measures in place.