Minerva

Surgical checklists and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1693 (Published 26 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1693

Few papers have had more impact in recent years than the 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article from Atul Gawande’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives Study Group, which showed that surgical checklists could almost halve the rate of deaths and complications in non-cardiac surgery in a wide variety of hospitals (www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa0810119). Although it became an instant classic, the study has been criticised for its simple before and after design and its lack of data on out of hospital complications. A new study looks at the before and after effect of using a checklist in the neurosurgery department of Turku University Hospital, Finland (Scandinavian Journal of Surgery 2013, doi:10.1177/1457496913482255). Unplanned readmissions fell from 25% to 10% after implementation of the checklist (P=0.02) and wound complications decreased from 19% to 8% (P=0.04). Minerva feels that, whatever the limitations of these studies, checklists must be a good thing.

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