Thursday, February 19, 2009

Checklists Save Lives

We've been talking about Checklists.

And along comes some interesting news from the New England Journal of Medicine . . .

When hospitals used a checklist before and during a surgery, the rate of deaths and complications was dramatically lower.

Pretty cool, huh?

Research was conducted in eight cities (Toronto, Canada; New Delhi, India; Amman, Jordan; Auckland, New Zealand; Manila, Philippines; Ifakara, Tanzania; London, England; and Seattle, WA) representing a variety of economic circumstances and diverse populations of patients.

Researchers collected information on 3733 patients who were undergoing noncardiac surgery.

Then they collected info on 3955 patients after the introduction of a standard Surgical Safety Checklist.

They measured the rate of complications, including death, during hospitalization within the first 30 days after the operation.

The Results

The rate of death was 1.5% before the checklist was introduced and declined to 0.8% afterward.

Inpatient complications occurred in 11.0% of patients before the institution of the checklist and in 7.0% after.

- - - - -

Let's talk reality: You are not likely to cut death rates or injury rates in half by using checklists. But wouldn't it be great if you cut costly mistakes in half?

How about if you cut rework in half?

Let's say rework costs you $25 or $30 per hour in hard costs. And more importantly, each of those hours represents an hour not bringin in another $100 or $125.

Cut that in half and you'll save a lot of money.



Hmmmm . . . Sounds like a good idea.



  1. Aviation depends on checklists. Have a look at the number of accidents caused by not bothering with the checklist and I'm sure you'll see similarly startling proof of their value.


  2. True, Andrew.
    Pilots are famous for checklists.

    Same with most really dangerous work.


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