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Hospitals demonstrate surgical safety checklist drops deaths and complications by more than a third
Date:1/18/2009

Boston, MA A collection of hospitals in eight cities around the globe has successfully demonstrated that the use of a simple surgical checklist during major operations can lower the incidence of deaths and complications by more than one third. The year-long study was led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in collaboration with the World Health Organization, and the results are published Online First on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine (www.nejm.org) . The study will appear in the January 29, 2009 printed issue of NEJM.

The rate of major complications in the study operating rooms fell from 11% in the baseline period to 7% after introduction of the checklist, a reduction of more than one third.

Even more dramatically, inpatient deaths following major operations fell by more than 40 percent (from 1.5% to 0.8%) with implementation of the checklist.

The reductions were of equal magnitude in high income and lower income sites in the study. The pilot sites included one hospital in each of the following cities: Seattle, Toronto, London, Auckland, Amman, New Delhi, Manila, and Ifakara, Tanzania. The hospital pilot sites are described here: http://www.who.int/patientsafety/safesurgery/pilot_sites/en/index.html

Data were collected from 7,688 patients: 3,733 before implementation of the checklist and 3,955 after the checklist was implemented. The study period ran from October 2007 to September 2008.

The pilot hospitals used a checklist developed by an expert panel convened by the World Health Organization as part of its "Safe Surgery Saves Lives" Initiative, led by Atul Gawande, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at HSPH and a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. The checklist is a single pag
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Contact: Robin Herman
rherman@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-4752
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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