When something bad happens during surgery, doctors must make life and death decisions on the spur of the moment. In the chaos following a cardiac arrest, major bleed or life-threatening allergic reaction, surgeons and anesthesiologists may overlook crucial procedures. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that having an evidence-based checklist handy in the OR can help keep the team organized.
Rather than put real patients at risk, researchers created a number of simulated crisis scenarios. The operating room teams were randomized to have a checklist available or not. With a checklist visible, teams were 75 percent less likely to delay or omit a life-saving step. And at the end of the study, 97 percent of the health professionals involved said they would want a checklist available if they themselves were undergoing an operation. The research shows clearly that even crisis situations are handled better under the guidance of a checklist.
[New England Journal of Medicine, online, Jan. 17, 2013]

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  1. PP
    Reply

    How can we find out if our local hospitals are using checklists?

  2. STEVE
    Reply

    It is unclear to me as to how we are to put this information to use by us. Are we to ask if there is a checklist in our OR before an operation or what?

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