Study Finds Surgical Checklists Improve Care

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A new 5-year study of South Carolina hospitals notes that facilities that implemented the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety List—a 19-item checklist aimed at increasing communication in surgery—experienced a 22% reduction in postsurgical fatalities. The collaborative study between the South Carolina Hospital Association, Ariadne Labs, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that the postsurgical mortality rates in the 14 hospitals that participated in the voluntary Safe Surgery Carolina program dropped from 3.38% in 2010 (prior to implementation) to 2.84% in 2013 after implementation.

Researchers compared the 30-day postsurgical mortality outcomes between the participating hospitals and the other hospitals in the state. According to a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, mortality was reported at 3.5% in 2010 and 3.71% in 2013 in the other 44 hospitals in the study.

Published in Annals of Surgery, the paper, “Mortality Trends After a Voluntary Checklist-based Surgical Safety Collaborative,” underscores the importance of clear clinical communication in all forms of health care treatment.

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