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Checklists help improve handling of surgical crises

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 28, 2013

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In a surgical crisis, operating room teams are likelier to follow lifesaving care processes when they use checklists, said a study published Jan. 17 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Seventeen OR teams simulated more than 100 surgical scenarios involving a crisis threatening the patient’s life. Those who had checklists available to them missed 6% of protocol steps. Without the checklists, teams missed 23% of the care processes, said the study (link).

The work builds on earlier research on surgical safety. For example, the World Health Organization’s operation checklist helped cut death rates by half and complication rates by nearly 60%.

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