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Brooks Schuelke
Brooks Schuelke
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A Simple Checklist Can Cut Surgical Deaths In Half

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Yesteday, the New England Journal of Medicine, released a study that found that the use of a simple 19 item surgical safety checklist could significantly reduce deaths and save countless dollars. The study, conducted at hospitals throughout the world, asked surgery teams to begin using the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist.

After introduction of the checklist, postoperative complications and death rates each fell by 36%. Amazingly, the study also found that the change of procedures was neither costly nor difficult. All sites were able to introduce the checklist over a period of 1 week to 1 month, and only two of safety measures on the checklist (use of pulse oximetry and use of prophylactic antibiotics) required a commitment of any resources.

Many of the items on the list are already in use in U.S. hospitals as part of the Joint Commission’s Universal Protocol, but the study’s authors still estimate that implementing all 19 items in all U.S. operating rooms could save at least $15 billion a year.

These findings are simply stunning. I hope that they’ll be adopted as the standard of care to help reduce medical malpractice deaths.