Surgical Checklist to Reduce Mortality, Complications Around Globe
In 2007 the World Health Organization introduced a surgical safety checklist as part of its Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative. The checklist’s purpose was to reduce surgical complications that result from inadequate safety practices as well as to promote greater communication among surgery teams.
The checklist was used in a pilot program in eight hospitals in different cities that year. Hospitals were places such as Seattle, London and Auckland as well as Manila, New Delhi and Amman. The data gathered formed the basis for several papers, including one published in 2009 in The New England Journal of Medicine, “A Surgical Safety Checklist to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in a Global Population.” In this study, the authors look at the potential for reductions in surgical complications and patient deaths from adopting a surgical safety checklist.
The findings include:
- All participating hospitals showed reductions in complications after surgery, and three sites showed significant declines.
- On average, the use of the WHO checklist was associated with a reduction in complications from 11% to 7%.
- The total in-hospital death rate was reduced from 1.5% to 0.8%.
- Overall, complications and in-hospital deaths fell by the equivalent of 36%.
The same data also formed the basis for a 2010 article in Health Affairs, “Adopting a Surgical Safety Checklist Could Save Money and Improve the Quality of Care in U.S. Hospitals.” Rather than focusing on reductions in complications and patient deaths, the authors looked at potential cost savings and improved care.
Tags: safety, technology
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the study titled "A Surgical Safety Checklist to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in a Global Population."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the study-related New York Times article titled "Hospitals Could Stop Infections by Tackling Bacteria Patients Bring In, Studies Find."
- Reporter's use of the study: Evaluate what the reporter chose to include and exclude from the study. Would the audience have acquired a clear understanding of the study's findings and limits from this article?
- Reporter's use of other material: Assess the material in the article that is not derived from the study. (for example: Does the reporter place the study in the context of other research and to what effect? Does the reporter include reactions to the study from other researchers or interested parties [e.g., political groups business leaders, or community members] and are their credentials or possible biases made clear?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.