Frontlines | Thespians and Bioterror

Courtesy of University of Louisville

Healthcare workers face a reality problem in the face of bioterror: How do they prepare for possible epidemics, the signs and symptoms of which few have witnessed? The realistic answer: With a little touch of makeup magic. In its patient program, the University of Louisville employs a cosmetics specialist who simulates injury and converts actors into victims. They stage bioterrorism-related afflictions as real as fake can be. Using actors to present symptoms to physicians-in-training is not unusual. But this is the first time it has been done in regard to bioterrorism.

"We can talk until we're blue in the face and describe something," says Gina Wesley, director of the medical school's standardized patient program. "But it's not until you actually see something, touch something, that you get a real grasp for how to spot it."

The Louisville experts, who have...

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