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Hospital Checklists Reduce Surgical Complications, Deaths: Study
Date:11/11/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitals that used checklists to prevent errors involving surgical patients dramatically reduced both complications and in-hospital deaths, a new study finds.

Between 2007 and 2009, six hospitals in the Netherlands implemented a series of 11 checklists that covered every aspect of surgical care from the moment the patient arrived at the hospital until discharge.

The checklists included about 100 items, covering pre-operative care, the operating room itself, recovery or intensive care and post-operative care. Items to be checked off included everything from making sure blood was available during surgery, double-checking that surgeons were operating on the correct site, and making sure the staff in the recovery ward or intensive care was clear on how to take care of the patient after surgery, including proper medications and when a patient should be allowed to eat again.

A comparison of about 7,600 patients -- half of whom underwent surgery before the checklists were being used and half who had surgery after implementation of the checklists -- found that checklists reduced complications by one-third. In-hospital deaths were cut in half.

"A comprehensive checklist for surgical patients that covers the entire surgical tract from admission to discharge was able to decrease mortality by half and morbidity by one-third," said study senior author Dr. Marja Boermeester, an associate professor and gastrointestinal surgeon at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam.

The study is published in the Nov. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Surgical errors remain a major concern in U.S. hospitals. A study published in October in the Archives of Surgery found that serious, devastating errors, such as operating on the wrong patient or the wrong body site, can and do occur. Many of the mistakes cited in that
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