Try This: Using Quick Response (QR) Codes in the Simulation Lab

By: Jean Ellen Zavertnik and Kristen Lawson

While the newer simulation software allows the programmer to input media files to display lab values, x-rays, and video clips during a patient scenario, there are times when a high-fidelity manikin is not being utilized for the simulation. During these times, a QR code might be used to reveal certain aspects of the patient’s condition or provide resources not otherwise available in the laboratory setting.

Here are some ways to use QR Codes:

  1. Provide Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) blood glucose results when using a standardized patient or a low-fidelity manikin. The QR code can be placed near the adult’s finger (or the infant’s heel) and scanned by the student. If a second blood glucose is needed later in the scenario, label the QR codes #1 and #2 to ensure the correct code is scanned.
  2. Provide oxygen saturation values during a simulation. For example, using a portable oxygen saturation monitor, place a QR code or several QR codes in sequence, on the display window. Explain to the student that the first code is the initial reading, and a new reading can be obtained by scanning the code with each subsequent intervention.
  3. Provide a visualization of a patient condition that might be difficult or time consuming to moulage. For example, using a low-fidelity child manikin for a child abuse scenario, place the QR code on the manikin’s chest. When scanned, pictures display the injuries present.
  4. Provide visualization of more than one state over time. For example, the patient, either a manikin or standardized patient, presents with pallor, diaphoresis, and confusion; following intervention the skin color returns to normal. Skin color changes cannot easily be changed during the scenario and may be better displayed using a short video clip with the QR code.
  5. Provide realism for procedural skills such as insertion of a nasogastric tube. A QR code placed on a static manikin could generate a short video clip of an anxious patient. Using the video may elicit empathy and communication skills along with the procedural skill.
  6. Provide a script or list of cues for a standardized patient, family member, or confederate. The person playing the role of a patient or family member could scan one of several QR codes, depending on how the scenario is progressing. This would allow the person playing the role to adjust to various simulation pathways.
  7. Provide electronic clinical resources to protocols and procedures needed for the simulation. Examples include protocol for the patient with hypoglycemia / procedure for blood draw from a central line.
  8. Provide access to other resources available in the hospital such as pharmacy, respiratory, physical therapy. Scanning the QR code could display a video depicting a health care professional answering a nursing student’s questions.

What other ways can you use the QR Code in simulation? Let us hear your ideas.

If you have not used QR Codes before, here are some basic instructions and tips to follow from Kristen Lawson, project manager for the School of Nursing at Clemson University.

Using QR codes in your clinical simulation: the technical how-to steps

When scanned by a phone or tablet app, a QR code connects a user to information online. You can tie a QR code to a YouTube video, a website, simple text, an online document, email address, and more.

  1. Decide on a QR code generating website to use (there are many!). Our favorite is QR-Code monkey (
  2. If you have a website or YouTube video you want students to see when they scan the QR code, copy the URL address of the specific content.
  3. If you have a document on your computer that you would like students to view/read when they scan the QR code, upload the document to a cloud storage account (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive, Box). Once the document is in the cloud storage, copy the sharable link attached to it (make sure the link is available publicly).
  4. If you have simple text that you want the QR code to link to (e.g., blood sugar numbers), select the “TEXT” tab on the QR code generator site (QR-Code Monkey) and type this information in the “Your Text” box.
  5. Once you complete the steps required on the QR code generator website, click “Create QR Code” and then download/save the code to your computer.
    NOTE: Most QR code generating websites (QR-Code Monkey included) allow you to save the code as a picture file or pdf. Name the QR code file on your computer so that you will know what it will link to when scanned (e.g., “QR_Code_BloodSugarLevel_60”).
  6. After you have created and downloaded/saved your QR codes, you will print and affix in the location where you want your students to scan and view the information.
  7. Students will need a smartphone or tablet with a (free) QR code reader app installed. This app will allow them to scan the QR codes.




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