Surgery Checklists Help OR Teams in a Crisis, Study Finds

Important steps were missed when surgical teams relied on memory alone

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Key staff members who run down the checklist typically include the anesthesiologist and the nurse, Gawande said.

Papaconstantinou said some surgery teams may be slower to adopt such checklists for a variety of reasons, including an attitude that these events don't happen to them or the belief that they don't need a checklist to do the right thing for patients. Some may be overconfident in their ability to perform under these stressful conditions, he said.

The authors of an accompanying journal editorial acknowledged that checklists are improving patient care in hospital operating rooms, and said the same consideration is due to patients undergoing outpatient procedures in endoscopy suites, cardiac catheter labs and interventional radiology rooms.

"These patients are deserving of the same safety considerations that are being afforded to those undergoing an operation," wrote the authors, from Imperial College London and Harvard University.

More information

The Nemours Foundation explains what surgery is like.

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