One Third Less Surgical Complications

Photo: Pencil lying over paper with ticked boxes

Surgicals standards summarised in
a checklist could help reduce death;

The checklist is intended to improve communications amongst members of the surgical team during surgery and to increase the consistency in using proven standards of surgical care in order to reduce preventable complications and mortality.

At three critical points during surgery (prior to anaesthesia, immediately prior to incision, and prior to patient exiting the operating room), a member of the surgical team verbally confirms the completion of each step for infection prophylaxis, anaesthesia safety and other essential steps in surgery (confirming that the surgery site is marked, counting the number of sponges and instruments used at the end of surgery to ensure nothing has been left inside of the patient).

Each pilot site implemented the checklist in their operating rooms and tracked changes in the rate of inpatient complication or death within 30 days of surgery. To establish a baseline, data was collected from a total of 3,733 patients before the implementation of the checklist and 3,955 patients after it was introduced.

Using the checklist, the study found the following overall results:
  • The rate of major complication in the study operating rooms fell from eleven per cent in the baseline period to seven per cent after the introduction of the checklist - a reduction of more than one-third.

  • Inpatient deaths following operation fell by over 40 per cent with the implementation of the checklist.

  • Similar reductions in complications were seen in both the high income and lower income sites in the study, with rates falling from 10.3 per cent to 7.1 per cent and 11.7 per cent to 6.8 per cent respectively.; Source: University Health Network (UHN)