Surgical Safety Checklist improves safety and gets patients involved

Surgical Safety Checklist improves safety and gets patients involved

On January 4, AAMC introduced the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist. This checklist takes only a few minutes to complete at three critical points during operative care – before anesthesia is administered, before skin incision and before the patient leaves the operating room. It is intended to ensure the safe delivery of anesthesia, appropriate prophylaxis against infection, effective teamwork by the operating room staff and other essential practices in perioperative care.

A study of the checklist in nearly 8,000 surgical patients, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed a reduction in deaths and complications. Read the article here.

Using this Surgical Checklist enables our patients to be involved in the process. Their understanding of the procedure they are going to have and is addressed and they have the opportunity to ask any last minute questions. Intraoperatively, the nurse consults with the surgical team before the procedure, confirming again the correct patient and procedure, as well as the anesthesia type, equipment, and pre-op medication. Finally, a debriefing at the end of surgery confirms the correct procedure was done.

I was not in the US on the day the Surgical Checklist was initiated at AAMC—I was in Tobago on a medical mission and thought I’d miss all the action. To my surprise, I was required to complete the WHO Surgical Checklist (offered there as a three part brochure) by the Tobago Health Ministry prior to bringing any patient into the operating theatre.

I didn’t miss a beat, here or abroad!

-Cheryl Walker, RN

1 comment

  1. Posted by katie, at Reply

    Great accomplishment – evidence based care to improve outcomes and reduce errors for our surgical patients. Great feat accomplished by a great clinical team!!

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