Experts highly recommend the use of surgical checklists just before a surgery, in order to help reduce the risk of potentially devastating, or even fatal errors. A new study finds the use of surgical checklists can lead to a drop in complication rates. However, they don't necessarily affect mortality rates.
The study was published recently in the Anesthesiology Journal. The review found the use of a surgical checklist reduced the rate of postoperative complications, however, the researchers were also surprised to find there was no corresponding increase in mortality rates.
The reviewers analyzed current literature to identify studies that specifically evaluated the impact of the use of surgical checklists on complication rates. About 37,339 patients were included in the review. The researchers discovered the use of a checklist led to a drop in the number of complications. For instance, they led to a reduction in wound infection rates and a reduction in blood loss, compared to the standard practice without the use of the checklist.
However, the rates of mortality, and pneumonia, as well as the rates of a repeat visit to the operating room were not impacted by the checklist. The researchers have concluded from the review that the use of a surgical checklist can help reduce the risk of postoperative complications.
Earlier studies have also found when patients discuss checklist use with their surgeons, checklist use was likely to be much higher among the surgical team. That research found when surgeons asked their surgical team if they were going to follow all of the items on the surgical checklist, the surgical team was much more likely to complete most of the items on the checklist, compared to when they were operating on patients who were not aware of the checklist.