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Communications training, surgical checklist can reduce costly postoperative complications
Date:12/5/2012

did not use checklist, more than 23 percent of the procedures resulted in complications within 30 days. About 16 percent of procedures by surgical teams who only participated in communications training led to complications within 30 days, and only 8.2 percent of the procedures had a 30-day complication when the surgical teams used both the communications training and the checklist.

Even small steps like making sure everyone on the team introduced themselves before the procedure helped reduce complications. "The theory is that this brings a sense of accountability and makes sure that everyone's voice can be heard," Dr. Bliss explained. "No one on the surgical team is a nameless, faceless body. The checklist makes sure everyone is advocating for the patient."

Dr. Bliss said that while this study builds on previous research about the benefits of using checklists, it is the first to look at how communications training can help surgical teams have productive conversations around patient care while using the checklist.

The drop in postoperative complications also has implications for national health care spending because Medicare and other health insurance providers are now starting to decline reimbursement for complications that result from the clinicians' errors, especially just a month after the patient's procedure. The authors note that postoperative infections are among the most expensive medical errors, costing $14,500 per case on average.*

"I don't think anyone goes into this profession expecting to hurt the patient, but it happens more than any of us would like," Dr. Bliss said. "Every adverse outcome results in more expense. It means a longer stay in the hospital and more treatment. Communicating and using a checklist do not just add extra minutes on to the procedure. There is an ethical and financial obligation tied to both tools."

"The checklist is publicly available online," Dr. Bliss concluded. "The c
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Contact: Sally Garneski
pressinquiry@facs.org
312-202-5409
American College of Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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