Study Suggests Written Checklists May Save Lives During a Surgical Crisis in Illinois and Elsewhere

According to researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), physicians and other medical professionals who use standard written safety checklists when responding to surgical crises have better outcomes than those who do not. In fact, doctors are reportedly 75 percent more likely to ensure that all necessary critical care steps are taken when using a checklist. According to AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, it has long been established that written checklists improve patient outcomes following routine surgical procedures. Clancy said the research was the first time evidence has shown similar checklists can benefit patients during a surgical emergency.

As part of a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigators reportedly simulated operating room emergencies such as heart attacks, an air embolism, severe allergic reactions, an unexplained drop in blood pressure, and heavy bleeding. Researchers then analyzed the response of 17 randomized surgical teams from three Boston area hospitals. Each team reportedly included a mock surgeon, surgical technologists, nurses, and anesthesia staff. In half of the scenarios, the teams were provided with written checklists to adhere to. In the other half, each team was required to use life-saving measures without a written guide. According to researchers, the checklists aided the operating room teams in eliminating missed steps about three-fourths of the time. In addition, 97 percent of those who participated in the study said they would want such checklists used in the event of their own surgical crisis.

Unexpected surgical crises reportedly require operating room staff in Illinois and across the nation to respond both quickly and correctly. Failure to appropriately respond to a surgical crisis can have life-threatening implications. Dr. Atul Gawande, Senior Study Author, Surgeon, and Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the research proves that simple, carefully crafted, evidence-based surgical checklists can improve patient safety during unexpected crisis events.

The use of written checklists is rapidly becoming a standard for routine surgical care. Medical negligence occurs when a physician, nurse, or other health care professional does not provide a patient with the prevailing standard of medical care. Medical malpractice can also result when a doctor fails to properly diagnose or treat a patient’s medical condition. If you suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence in Illinois, you have up to two years from the date you learned of the injury to file a lawsuit. If you were hurt or a loved one died as a result of negligent medical care, you should contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your case.

If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, give the experienced attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596. Our knowledgeable Chicago personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you file your case. For a free consultation with a dedicated advocate, please contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.

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Additional Resources:

Standard Written Checklists Can Improve Patient Safety During Surgical Crises, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Press Release dated January 16, 2013

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