Safety checklist for operations launched

The BBC is reporting that a safety checklist designed to cut the risk of surgical complications is to be circulated to doctors world-wide.  The list has been drawn up by the World Health Organization (WHO), which says half of complications resulting from major surgery may be preventable.

Preliminary results from patients at eight pilot sites – including London, Seattle and Toronto – indicate that the checklist has nearly doubled the likelihood that patients will receive proven standards of surgical care, leading to a significant cut in complications and deaths.

My Take?

Airline pilots have been doing this for decades. And, so should have the medical profession.

A Lancet study found that basic safety measures were often overlooked at hospitals around the world. 

The WHO estimates that up to 16% of surgical procedures in industrial nations result in major complications. 

In developing countries the death rate during major surgery is estimated to be as high as 10%.

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa the death rate from general anesthesia alone is estimated to be as high as one in 150.

Perhaps this checklist would have prevented this headline: N.J. Surgeon’s License Suspended After He Removes Wrong Lung. Fox News reports that a New Jersey surgeon’s medical license was suspended after state regulators found he removed the wrong lung from a patient, then tried to conceal the error.

The State Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Santusht Perera moved a portion of the patient’s right lung when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung, the state Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday.

Perera, according to the board, then told the patient that the right lung contained a life-threatening tumor, though there was no such growth. He also altered the patient’s records to show he intended to operate on the right lung.

The board determined that Perera’s actions constituted gross negligence. And, they were right.

The board said the “tragic error” could have been prevented if Dr. Perera had taken “the most basic and minimal of actions that should be taken by a surgeon in advance of surgery.” 

Hopefully, in the future, at his and your hospital, preoperative checklists will be part of the protocol.


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