WHO checklist leads to fewer post-surgery deaths

Annals of Surgery found death rate decline in South Carolina in hospitals that chose to participate in the program.
By Bernie Monegain
10:35 AM

The rate of patient death after surgery in South Carolina hospitals decreased substantially in hospitals that implemented a checklist developed by the World Health Organization, according to a summary of a study published online in Annals of Surgery.
More details are set for publication in Annals of Surgery’s August 2017 issue.
South Carolina hospitals participating in the voluntary checklist program saw a 22 percent reduction of post-surgery deaths compared with similar hospitals in the state.

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Participating hospitals adopted a customized version of the 19-item checklist and paired the checklist with a structured implementation process.

Of all hospitals in South Carolina performing surgeries, 14 completed the program in December 2013, while 44 hospitals chose to not participate.

The WHO describes the checklist as a simple tool designed to improve the safety of surgical procedures by bringing together the whole operating team – surgeons, anesthesia providers and nurses – for key safety checks during vital phases of perioperative care.

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Two groups had similar mortality trends before the program’s implementation, but from 2011 to 2013, postoperative mortality decreased significantly for the participating hospitals, but not for the non-participating hospitals.

In 2010, the 30-day postoperative mortality rate at the participating hospitals was 3.38 percent, but by 2013 it had decreased to 2.84 percent. At the comparison hospitals, mortality rose from 3.50 percent to 3.71 percent. 

Atul Gawande, MD, led the development of the WHO checklist and is executive director of Ariadne Labs, which helped implement the Safe Surgery 2015 program in South Carolina.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

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