New report published to give practical steps for using surgical checklists safely

A new, freely accessible report led by Dr Emmilie Aveling from the Department of Health Sciences offers practical guidance to those seeking to optimise implementation of the surgical checklist. Building on previously published research findings, this Wellcome Trust-funded report offers seven concrete steps to support healthcare workers and organisation.

The Surgical Safety Checklist, a list of 19 checks which includes both technical items such as adequate levels of equipment, and non-technical items such as team introductions to improve communications, was introduced by the World Health Organisation in 2007. More than 4,000 hospitals worldwide have registered as users of the checklist.

Research led by Dr Aveling examined how the checklist was used in operating theatres in two English hospitals and two-Saharan African hospital. This work has led to a number of important recommendations. They include the need to identify strong local leaders to ‘champion’ the checklist and persuade their peers of its value, to ensure adequate organisational support for the checklist, to ensure that staff are held accountable for the way that it is used.

Dr Emmilie Aveling, a Research Fellow in the Social Science APPlied to Healthcare REsearch (SAPPHIRE) group at the University of Leicester, commented, “We hope that this report has provided some helpful and concrete examples of how to overcome challenges and maximise the benefit of introducing the checklist for patients and staff.”