Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head Head to Head

Is WHO’s surgical safety checklist being hyped?

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 05 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4700

Rapid Response:

Be Prepared

One may argue about the finer points of the WHO surgical safety checklist. It may have some faults, it may be improved. But it allows all of the theatre staff to be prepared. Because the alternative is that poor preparation promotes poor performance.

There may be no clear evidence to support the WHO surgical safety checklist. But consider this. In 1908 Lieut General Baden Powell CB came up with "Be Prepared" as the motto for the Boy Scout movement. It has served the movement valiantly for the last 111 years. With no need to change it, despite being in an ever changing world.

Surgical safety checklists allow the theatre team to be prepared. Surgical safety checklists are here to stay. And here's why. The idea that in the 21st Century a surgeon can turn up unprepared to an operating session is simply inconceivable. And reckless.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 August 2019
Malcolm John DICKSON
Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Morley Green, Cheshire