A reader sent me an article in September – October 2009 issue of Harvard Magazine that discusses the work of Dr. Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande is very interested in patient safety. One of his interests is the use of medical checklists, a subject I have addressed in a previous post.
Apparently, Gawande and his colleagues developed a checklist for surgery patients. The list, described in the article as addressing "rudimentary tasks" (e.g. confirming the patient’s identity), had some amazing results. In one year of use in 8 different hospitals around the world, the rate of complications had dropped one-third; surgicial-site infections by half, and deaths of surgical patients by nearly half.
Seven countries and more than two dozen states require the use of surgical checklists. One wonders why every state in the Union does not require them.