Night Shift is a video game that helps doctors make better decisions


When you hear someone say “video games”, the first thing that comes to mind is electronic entertainment, slowly this phase is shifting to something much more rather than just entertainment. For instance, studies shows that games could be used by astronauts to combat isolation, now gaming can be used for advanced teaching purposes as well.

An exmple of this is, Night Shift — A medical video game for iOS developed in other to improve physicians’ ability to accurately recognize trauma in patients, this enables physicians to provide them with the necessary level of treatment.

The game was designed by a medical doctor and associate professor of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh-based development company Schell Games. In Night Shift players control a young emergency physician who’s  job is to treat patients suffering from severe trauma. The game is designed to “tap into the part of the brain that uses pattern recognition and previous experience to make snap decisions using subconscious mental shortcuts.”

While playing the game, real doctors direct a fictitious young physician in a small community hospital who must use clues to treat patients and determine which ones need urgent, higher levels of care for serious injuries.

These are decisions that happen under conditions and time pressure and uncertainty, but these decisions really matter — Mohan

Physicians often need to make decisions quickly, explained Mohan, regardless of the amount of information available to them. According to him, most physicians at non-trauma centers rarely encounter patients suffering from severe trauma and may mistakenly prioritize relatively lesser injuries.

In other to test video game’s efficacy, up to 368 emergency medicine physicians from across the United States were picked to participate in Mohan’s study. None of the participants worked at hospitals specializing in trauma. Half were given the game to play, while the others were allowed to spend at least an hour reading educational materials relating to trauma. During the end of the session, a simulation test was carried out, and those who played the game performed better than those with reading materials.

The physicians who played the game failed to send severe trauma patients to hospitals equipped to treat them 53 percent of the time, compared to the 64 percent tasked with reading educational texts. Six months later, Night Shift doctors failed 57 percent of the time and the other half failed 74 percent of the time.

Doctors, however, didn’t like playing the video game. Many complained that it was frivolous and a waste of time. The doctors who had the traditional training, on the other hand, loved their materials and some spent more time than necessary with them.

“I was ecstatic,” Mohan said about the findings. “Despite the fact the people did not enjoy it, they still out performed.” Mohan said she does not think her video game or any video game will ever replace real-life training.

There is nothing that can take the place of spending time at the bedside.

Interestingly, those that played the game are said to have enjoyed it much less than those with reading materials. However, there’s hope that if the game can be improved, the effects can be increased as well.

Earlier on, it’s was suggested that games could be used by astronauts to combat isolation, good to know that they’re now used to for teaching purposes as well, besides, it’s good to have fun as you learn right?

trauma patient is someone who has suffered a serious or life threatening injury as a result of an event such as a car accident, gunshot wound or fall.Traumatic injuries may affect many parts of the body, including the brain, the extremities and internal organs.

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