Current Events

The biggest clinical innovation in 30 years is…

a checklist?

According to The Independent (‘Right patient? right limb?‘), “Surgeons in England and Wales will be ordered today to carry out a safety checklist before every operation they perform, after a study showed it cut surgical deaths and complications by a third….Surgeons and nurses run through a series of basic safety checks before each operation, similar to those made by pilots before take-off. The checks include asking: Is this the right patient? Is this the right limb? Has the patient had the right drugs?”

Atul Gawande states why he believes these checklists are so important.  

“When I talk to clinicians, they say: ‘we already do this stuff.’ The answer is: we are good at doing it most of the time, but we are not good at doing it all the time. We found some members of the team felt they were such low agents, they only felt responsible for their corner. Being allowed to say who they were [one item on the checklist] and hear the surgeon say what he expected made them feel part of the team. When you are not given a voice you turn your brain off.”

This techniques may also be implemented on the other side of the Atlantic.  On CNN, I recently saw an interview with an executive at MachOne Leadership.  This firm translates aviation Crew Resource Management (CRM) techniques, tools, and skills for the healthcare field.  Aviation techniques may be useful in the surgical setting because both are complex, high-stress environments, lead by type-A personalities who don’t like to compromise.


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