We have all heard weird stories of doctors leaving surgical instruments inside patients, wrongful amputation of limbs, and accidental removal of normal organs. Much as we would have loved to debunk these tales, unfortunately there are documented evidences of such occurrence in medical literature. To check this trend, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 published the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and Implementation Manual to increase the safety of patients undergoing surgery.

The checklist essentially identifies three distinct phases of an operation namely;

  1. Before the induction of anesthesia
  2. Before skin incision is made
  3. Before the patient leaves the operating room.

In each phase, a ‘checklist coordinator’ must confirm that the surgical team has completed the listed tasks before it proceeds with the procedure.

Role of the Checklist

The role of this checklist is to systematically and efficiently ensure that all conditions are optimum for patient safety, and that all staff are identifiable and accountable, and errors in patient identity, site and type of procedure are avoided completely.

By following a few critical steps, health care professionals can minimize the most common and avoidable risks endangering the lives and well-being of surgical patients.

It is important to increase awareness of this safety initiative. An international study has demonstrated that the use of the surgical safety checklist has been associated with up to 38% lower odds of 30-day death after emergency abdominal surgery compared with the same operations performed at hospitals that didn’t use a checklist

Reference: WHO, Wikipedia

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