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Presurgical Checklists Save Lives

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Before pilots are cleared for takeoff they must run through a checklist. Until recently, however, doctors did not have a comparable safety procedure. There is a growing movement to encourage health care providers and surgical teams to use a checklist. A new study published in the Annals of Surgery found that using a checklist before urgent surgery cut complications dramatically. Over 1700 patients were included in the review of medical records before and after instituting use of the checklist. The number of deaths dropped by almost two-thirds from 3.7 percent to 1.4 percent. According to Dr. Atul Gawande, head of the Safe Surgery Saves Lives program of the World Health Organization, the checklist encourages teamwork and clear communication.

[Annals of Surgery, May, 2010]

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