Sara Rollason

Director, Pharmabotics Ltd

Q: What is your background and what attracted you to work for Pharmabotics?

A: My background was similar to Anthony’s. We both started off in the field of Art. My foundation in Art started at Chelsea, where I developed a deep passion for creativity. I then went on to specialise in illustration. Much later I became a member of the Medical Artist’s Association, which is a post graduate course in Medical Art. In fact it was at a Medical Artist’s Conference in Cambridge that I first met my husband. The passion and enthusiasm he had for his craft was inspirational. We attended many lectures together and had an immediate affinity with each other’s interests. The art of creating and perfecting a medical simulator was fascinating to watch. I started working for Pharmabotics almost immediately.

Q: What is your role in Pharmabotics Ltd?

A: My role now is that of Director of Pharmabotics Ltd. It is a challenging position. I will not seek to replace my husband Anthony, because I do not think that would be possible. However, he spent much of his time teaching me how to take over the reins he sadly had to leave. He has entrusted his life’s work to me and with the help of an invaluable team I hope we will continue to branch out into new fields of discovery, examining new markets that I believe will benefit from our innovative ideas. We already have a good global distribution network and we will continue to develop key industrial partnerships and seek new research projects with universities.

Q: What does Pharmabotics Ltd have to offer the Anaesthetics industry?

A: Pharmabotics Ltd has developed a unique range of models directed towards the anaesthetics market. Our models provide the medical profession with the ability to perfect their skills and training in a safe environment. Simulators allow people to learn through trial and error at their own pace, thus enthusing the operative with invaluable knowledge and confidence. Take for example our Lumbar Epidural Model EIT100.This trainer is designed to help trainee anaesthetists acquire the hands-on skills to perform epidural injections. It offers both tactile and visual access to the lumbar spine, the epidural space and the dural sac. The spinous processes and the interspinous spaces can be palpated beneath the skin. The epidural injection is carried out using either air or saline to detect loss of resistance. If accidental dural puncture occurs “cerebrospinal” fluid will appear. Loss of resistance to air or saline is the key stage to performing an epidural injection and is a difficult skill to master, requiring repeated experience of the changes that occur as the epidural needle is advanced. The tissue layers of the trainer have been developed to replicate the tactile feedback from the skin and the subcutaneous tissues, the interspinous ligaments and the ligamentum flavium. The skin is smooth to touch and it is easy to identify the lumbar spinal vertebra. The spinous processes of L1-5 are palpable and epidural injection can be performed at all 4 interspinous levels. It was made in collaboration with Dr B. Fischer, Consultant Anaesthetist, Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, Birmingham, U.K. Formerly chairman of ESRA (UK branch). Another of our classic anaesthetic models is the Anaesthetic Access Trainer CYT200. This is a simple cut down version of the CYT100 offering no head and no upper torso. An invaluable tool for practising Crico-tracheotomies. Effective training can be achieved with realistic palpation of the anatomy below the surface of the skin.

Q: What changes do you see occurring in the anaesthetic and healthcare industry over the last few years?

A: Much has changed over the last few years in the healthcare industry, and this is reflected in our most recent range of products. Our products evolve to a great extent due to the influence directed by the changes in medical education. Of particular relevance to this change is the introduction of Ultrasound in the recent N.I.C.E agreement. Pharmabotics have recently developed two new models relevant to the anaesthetics market, both of which can be visualised with the aid of modern ultrasound devices. The first is the CVC200 The Central Venous Catheterisation Insertion Simulator. It has key anatomical landmarks, which can be clearly identified, i.e. the clavicle, the sternocleidomastoid muscle and the internal carotid artery, which is palpable and includes a manual pulse. The skin is the unique Pharmabotics trademark and is realistic to the touch and can absorb 150 full CVC insertions without showing the last user. This model is invaluable to practice the skill of safe needle insertion of the introducer, Guide wire (the Seldinger technique). The second model recently developed for use with ultrasound is the Regional Anaesthesia Ultrasound trainer made by Pharmabotics in collaboration with Dr Nigel Bedforth, Consultant Anaesthetist at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospital. This trainer was specifically developed to assist the trainee anaesthetist to develop the necessary skills to become proficient in using ultrasound for use in regional anaesthesia and nerve blocks.

Q: What does the future hold for Pharmabotics Ltd?

A: Pharmabotics will continue to seek out new and innovative solutions to enhance medical education. Our strong emphasis on research and development will carry us forward to deal with this ever-changing market. Sadly societal based changes regarding our day-to-day living are inherently interlaced with problems for future generations. A more sedentary lifestyle full of modern convenience and fast food is not conducive to a lean and healthy human. Obesity looks as if it will become commonplace. This in itself will contribute greatly to the many problems experienced by health care workers. It will become increasingly difficult to examine patients on a tactile anatomical landmark level. Ultrasound will need to be utilised more and more as a diagnostic tool in medical practice. Our models are already reflecting this. We have recently adapted the Epidural trainer to that purpose; The EIT200 contains a thicker layer of skin, which replicates the more obese patient. The loss of Anthony is also a loss to the industry as a whole. He was a dynamic leader in the field of creative medical simulators. But our dream, which encompasses my hope and Anthony’s wish, is that we will move forward, build on and perpetuate the legacy he has left behind.

Pharmabotics Ltd was founded in 1998 by Sara Rollason’s late husband. Anthony Rollason. Anthony gained a wealth of knowledge working over several years as a medical Artist, and crafting his marketing experience in publishing. From the start Pharmabotics was established to research new and innovative materials hitherto not seen or used in the manufacture of Medical Simulators. It is the use of these soft tactile materials that make the Pharmabotics simulators so unique, and is in turn the very substance that has promoted Pharmabotics to become a serious contender within the niche market of soft tissue medical simulators.

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