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2010 HSR Impact Award recognizes surgical safety research

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 9, 2010) AcademyHealth today recognized research that improves patient safety and surgical outcomes with the 2010 Health Services Research (HSR) Impact Award. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist was created as a tool to ensure adherence to basic safety standards of care.

"With this award AcademyHealth recognizes research that clearly translated into policy and, ultimately, made our health care system better," said AcademyHealth President W. David Helms, Ph.D. "The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist exemplifies how health services research can inform the decision making process and ultimately impact the lives of Americans in a positive and beneficial manner."

In 2006 the World Health Organization asked Dr. Atul Gawande to develop an approach to reduce surgical harm globally. Over the next two years, Dr. Gawande led a team of international experts from surgery, anesthesiology, and nursing in defining a core set of safety standards that can be applied to high and low income countries alike. In its initial multi-city, multinational study, the 19-item checklist developed by Dr. Gawande and collaborators reduced the rate of inpatient complications and deaths by more than a third. Uptake and adoption of the checklist has been rapid, changing the standard of care in many U.S. states and around the world.

The checklist consists of an oral confirmation by surgical teams at the completion of the basic steps for ensuring safe delivery of anesthesia, prophylaxis against infection, effective teamwork, and other essential practices in surgery. It is used at three critical junctures in care: before anesthesia is administered, immediately before incision, and before the patient is taken out of the operating room.

Policymakers and practitioners worldwide were quick to embrace the study's findings. To date over 1,600 hospitals worldwide have confirmed that they are implementing the checklist, and more than 16 countries ranging from the United Kingdom to Ecuador to Jordanhave announced that they are implementing the Surgical Safety Checklist as a nationwide standard of care. In the United States, hospital associations in 20 states have committed to statewide checklist adoption, with several monitoring the effect on surgical outcomes.

For a full description of Dr. Gawande's research and its findings and to view the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, please visit:


Contact: Ayesha Pathak

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