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WHO Surgical Checklist: This SOP May Save Lives and Lawsuits


The stories (e.g. here and here) we’ve been reading recently about the surgical checklist from the World Health Organization (their Safe Surgery Saves Lives Challenge) have some of us wondering why all surgical teams aren’t required to use them.

Even under the extreme emergency of “birds in engines,” the pilots of that plane that landed in the Hudson pulled out their own checklist.

It also has us wondering if we can’t just take the Checklist into the operating room with us and insist that the hospital staff use it and sign off on it (a big X marking the place where the knife is supposed to be inserted wouldn’t hurt either, so to speak).

Granted there is training recommended before adopting the Checklist as SOP (standard operating procedure, no pun intended), but better a little caution than total hubris (don’t need no stinkin’ checklist?). (Link from here for operation manual and starter kit.)

It also has us wondering if insurance companies that insure hospitals, doctors, and nurses are insisting that the Checklist be used. And, we’re wondering, if lawyers who prosecute or defend these lawsuits are fully cognizant of the existence and value of the Checklist.

One can’t eliminate, from life, death, destruction, terrorism, or mistakes, but one sure can take small steps to minimize their frequency or severity, e.g. use your turn signals, look both ways before crossing, exercise, and, maybe surgical Checklists. Learn about this Checklist ….

Just wondering …. Link to the Checklist.

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