This study describes a comparison between an animal model and a haptic enabled, needle based, graphical user interface simulator (SimPL), for teaching Diagnostic Peritoneal Lavage (DPL). Forty novice medical students were divided into two groups and then trained to perform a DPL on either a pig or the SimPL. All subjects completed a pre and post test of basic knowledge and were tested by performing a DPL on a TraumaMan™ mannequin and evaluated by two trauma surgeons blinded to group. The results showed significant improvement over baseline knowledge in both groups but more so in the SimPL group. The simulator group performed better on site selection (p<0.001) and technique (p<0.002) than those who trained on a pig. The finding that a simulator is superior to an animal model for teaching an important skill to medical students has profound implications on future training and deserves further study.
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