A simple checklist prevents deaths after surgery, a large new study suggests
Washington Post, April 18, 2017
The Washington Post reports that a recent South Carolina study examining 30-day post-surgical mortality rate of hospitals found a reduction in deaths for those hospitals participating in a voluntary checklist-based quality improvement program, over those hospitals that were not. The study is to be published in August 2017.
I find checklists fascinating – especially when used as tools in technically demanding fields such as aviation and medicine. They are an incredibly cheap, easy-to-use and low-tech solution in fields of ever-expanding technical complexity. Yet they do have limitations, and they have taken an inordinate amount of time to be fully-embraced by hospital personnel.
For followers and practitioners of patient safety and health quality, the study’s conclusion comes as no surprise, but it does raise questions. In today’s post, I’d like to examine the history and benefits of checklist adoption. Subsequent posts will consider the limitations of checklists, the dissemination of ideas, and the implications of checklists for regulatory effectiveness – the theme of this blog.