Use of a Novel, Portable, LED-Based Capillary Refill Time Simulator within a Disaster Triage Context

Todd P. Chang, Genevieve Santillanes, Ilene Claudius, Phung K. Pham, James Koved, John Cheyne, Marianne Gausche-Hill, Amy H. Kaji, Saranya Srinivasan, J. Joelle Donofrio, Cynthia Bir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: A simple, portable capillary refill time (CRT) simulator is not commercially available. This device would be useful in mass-casualty simulations with multiple volunteers or mannequins depicting a variety of clinical findings and CRTs. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a prototype CRT simulator in a disaster simulation context. Methods: A CRT prototype simulator was developed by embedding a pressure-sensitive piezo crystal, and a single red light-emitting diode (LED) light was embedded, within a flesh-toned resin. The LED light was programmed to turn white proportionate to the pressure applied, and gradually to return to red on release. The time to color return was adjustable with an external dial. The prototype was tested for feasibility among two cohorts: emergency medicine physicians in a tabletop exercise and second year medical students within an actual disaster triage drill. The realism of the simulator was compared to videobased CRT, and participants used a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) ranging from "completely artificial" to "as if on a real patient." The VAS evaluated both the visual realism and the functional (eg, tactile) realism. Accuracy of CRT was evaluated only by the physician cohort. Data were analyzed using parametric and non-parametric statistics, and mean Cohen's Kappas were used to describe inter-rater reliability. Results: The CRT simulator was generally well received by the participants. The simulator was perceived to have slightly higher functional realism (P = .06, P = .01) but lower visual realism (P = .002, P = .11) than the video-based CRT. Emergency medicine physicians had higher accuracy on portrayed CRT on the simulator than the videos (92.6% versus 71.1%; P<.001). Inter-rater reliability was higher for the simulator (0.78 versus 0.27; P<.001). Conclusions: A simple, LED-based CRT simulator was well received in both settings. Prior to widespread use for disaster triage training, validation on participants' ability to accurately triage disaster victims using CRT simulators and video-based CRT simulations should be performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • capillary refill time
  • disaster simulation
  • mass-casualty simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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