Quality & Patient Safety

Worldwide pilot study finds checklist reduces adverse events by a third

Patient Safety Monitor: Global Edition, January 20, 2009

A pilot study in which eight hospitals across the globe implemented a new surgical checklist has proven to reduce adverse surgical events by a third, according to a press release by the World Health Organization (WHO). The study, to be published in the January 29, 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that by utilizing the checklist, the death rate following surgery dropped from 1.5% to 0.8% (more than 40%), while the complication rate dropped from 11% to 7%.

The checklist, developed by the WHO, is conducted by nurses and surgeons prior to each operation. The questions that must be checked off before the operation include: "Is this the right person? Is this the right limb? Has the patient had the right drugs?"

The study has already prompted Britain’s National Patient Safety Agency to set a February 2010 deadline for surgeons to implement the safety checklist before every operation they perform, according to The Independent. (Click here to read the full article.) According to the Independent, the new safety checklist is projected to save hundreds of lives and eliminate 80,000 complications a year in Britain alone.

The worldwide pilot study included hospitals in Ifakara, Tanzania; Manila, Phillipines; New Dehli, India; Amman, Jordan; Seattle, United States; Toronto, Canada; London, United Kingdom; and Auckland, New Zealand.

To read the WHO press release, click here.


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