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Surgical Safety Checklists Can Make Patients Feel Safer

Update Date: Jan 27, 2014 04:06 PM EST
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The use of a surgical safety checklist could alter how patients feel about undergoing invasive procedures. According to a new pilot study, patients who go through a surgical safety checklist with their health care providers end up feeling safer.

For this study, the researchers from Tulane University Hospital and Clinic set out to determine whether or not the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC) would be effective in improving patient care. The SSC was released in 2009 and has been tied to reducing surgical complication rates. The checklist is composed of tasks that doctors should have completed at different points during the surgery. Some of the items on the list include reviewing any patient allergies, counting total number of sponges and other tools before surgery and confirming surgical site before surgery begins.

The researchers recruited a total of 104 patients. 61 of them did not know about the checklist where as the remaining 43 were given a copy of the checklist made up of 26 items. The team found that patients who received a checklist were more likely to comply with it and agree to use it. The researchers concluded that the difference in the compliance rates resulted in different levels of care for 19 out of the 26 items.

The team found that 95 percent of the checklist group had confirmed their allergies with their doctors whereas for the uninformed group, only 69 percent of the patients had their allergies confirmed. In terms of surgical sites, 74 percent of the informed group had the site confirmed in comparison to the 54 percent from the uninformed group. Lastly, doctors accounted for the total number of sponges and surgical tools for 87 percent of the checklist patients. For the other group, only 19 percent of them had doctors who counted the total number of tools that would be used during surgery.

Furthermore, patients reported that the SSC made them feel more safe and comfortable before their surgeries. The findings suggest that these checklists have the potential to be extremely helpful for both patients and doctors.

"The checklist is only beneficial when it is used, and we found that involving patients helps ensure that surgical teams complied with it," said Seth Christian, M.D., M.B.A., director of quality for the department of anesthesiology at the University in New Orleans reported by Medical Xpress. "Empowering patients to participate in their own care creates a culture of safety and makes them feel safer - and rightly so."

The findings will be presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists PRACTICE MANAGEMENT 2014.

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