If there’s one theme that this blog has hammered away at relentlessly, it’s the importance of checklists in improving patient safety. In a massive World Health Organization study, checklists were shown to reduce surgical deaths by forty-seven percent and major complications by thirty-six percent. Yet only one-quarter of American hospitals are using checklists.
Now comes a Dutch study, published in the Annals of Surgery, that reviews the errors committed by doctors in 294 successful Dutch medical malpractice lawsuits. The study found that in twenty-nine percent of the medical malpractice lawsuits, the error that the doctors committed would have been listed on the relevant checklist. Thus, had all the Dutch doctors adhered to the relevant checklist, there would have been nearly one-third fewer medical malpractice cases.
The stuff of the typical surgical checklist is not rocket science. A typical checklist prompts doctors to make sure the operating schedule is correct, that all the necessary equipment is at hand and that the surgical area is marked, among other things.
Reacting to the study, Boston-based surgeon Atul Gawande, one of the architects of the WHO pilot project, had strong words for surgeons who do not follow checklists: “This kind of evidence indicates that surgeons who do not use one of these checklists are endangering patients.”
This blog is maintained by the Boston medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Office of Alan H. Crede, P.C. The blog does not and cannot provide you with legal advice relative to medical malpractice claims that you may have.