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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Surgical checklist will save lives

15th January 2009

A simple surgical checklist, to be implemented in all hospitals across England and Wales, could save lives.

heart surgery

Research has shown that using the checklist during major operations can cut deaths by more than 40% and complications by more than a third.

The checklist has been devised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and tested in eight cities across the world with findings of the year-long study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Data was collected from 7,688 patients - 3,733 before the checklist was implemented, and 3,955 afterwards - and showed a fall in the rate of major complications from 11% to 7% and inpatient deaths had fallen more than 40% from 1.5% to 0.8%.

Now the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has ordered all hospitals in England and Wales to use it by February 2010.

The checklist focuses on basic good practice before anaesthesia is administered, before a patient is cut open, and before a patient is removed from the operating theatre and designed to promote effective teamwork and prevent problems such as infection and unnecessary blood loss.

Professor David Taube, medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which piloted the checklist, said: "The results speak for themselves and show that use of the checklist can make a significant difference."

NPSA medical director Dr Kevin Cleary said the study offered clear evidence that a simple intervention could lead to dramatic improvement in outcome for patients undergoing surgery.

Health Minister Lord Darzi, who helped develop the checklist, said its beauty was in its simplicity.


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