Sim Center

Stephen Small, M.D.| Director


The University of Chicago Center for Simulation and Safety in Healthcare creates, evaluates and disseminates innovative methods for improving the resilience of health care systems to failures. The key themes pursued at the Center are simulation-based methods, advanced safety information systems, health policy, ethics and legal issues, and systems research.


The University of Chicago Center for Simulation and Safety in Healthcare is one of 17 research and evaluation developing centers established nationwide in 2001 by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Following the 1999 release of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, the AHRQ rolled out a 5-year, $250-million research agenda to study ways of reducing the incidence of medical errors and accidents. As part of the congressionally mandated AHRQ research plan, the Centers are intended to become the infrastructure for sustained research in patient safety.


The Simulation Center is a central feature of the University's Center for Simulation and Safety in Healthcare. Based in a newly renovated, dedicated facility on campus in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the Center consists of administrative offices, a large multimedia immersive simulation room, and an adjacent conference and observation room. The Access Grid advanced digital multimedia system supports debriefing, control, research and other facility needs for Internet-2 based telecollaboration and learning.

Simulation-based research and training in health care has been evolving and expanding rapidly since the early 1990s. Fueled in part by their success in other high-risk, safety-critical industries such as aviation, petrochemical processing, and nuclear power, simulation today constitutes an integral component of many contemporary safety programs. Simulation-based methods uncouple training risks from actual operations, facilitate behavior enhancement through video feedback, and help personnel in high-reliability organizations maintain the skills necessary to deal effectively with risk and complexity. We also believe that immersive and other forms of simulation build a safety culture and impact other key organizational factors that strengthen resilience to failure and ensure desired outcomes.

The Simulation Center was created with funding from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Advanced Biomedical Tele-Collaboration Testbed, and support from the University of Chicago Hospitals, the Biological Sciences Division, and the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care. The Simulation Center currently utilizes advanced high-fidelity Human Patient Simulators and the Access Grid tele-collaboration technology to study simulated medical events and scenarios in an immersive environment. The facility design supports interdisciplinary, multi-patient simulations to facilitate investigation of and training for systems-level issues.

Sim Center and MOCA