The WHO checklist: a global tool to prevent errors in surgery

National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), Patient Safety Division, 4-8 Maple Street, London, W1T 5HD, UK. .
Patient Safety in Surgery 02/2009; 3(1):9. DOI: 10.1186/1754-9493-3-9
Source: PubMed


In this article, we welcome the adoption of the WHO surgical checklist to prevent errors in surgical practice. We highlight the scale of the problem and discuss the adoption of this tool in the UK.

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Available from: Aziz Sheikh
    • "(b) ensure the checklist is completed for every patient undergoing a surgical procedure (including local anesthesia). (c) ensure that the use of the checklist is entered in the clinical notes or electronic record by a registered member of the team.[5] "
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    ABSTRACT: "Primum non nocere" (first do no harm): Hippocrates (c. 460 BC-377 BC). Wrong site surgery is the fourth commonest sentinel event after patient suicide, operative and post-operative complications, and medication errors. Misinterpretation of the clinic letters or radiology reports is the commonest reason for the wrong site being marked before surgery. We analyzed 50 cases each of operations carried out on the kidney, ureter, and the testis. The side mentioned on clinic letters, the consent form, and radiology reports lists were also studied. The results were analyzed in detail to determine where the potential pitfalls were likely to arise. A total of 803 clinic letters from 150 cases were reviewed. The side of disease was not documented in 8.71% and five patients had the wrong side mentioned in one of their clinic letters. In the radiology reports, the side was not mentioned in three cases and it was reported wrongly in two patients. No wrong side was ever consented for and no wrong side surgery was performed. The side of surgery was not always indicated in clinic letter, theatre list, or the consent form despite the procedure being carried on a bilateral organ. As misinterpretation is a major cause of wrong side surgery, it is prudent that the side is mentioned every time in every clinic letter, consent form, and on the theatre list. The WHO surgical safety checklist has already been very effective in minimizing the wrong site surgery in the National Health Service.
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    ABSTRACT: Compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO) surgical safety checklist may reduce preventable adverse events. However, compliance may be difficult to implement in Thailand. This study was conducted to examine compliance with the WHO checklist at a Thai university hospital. A descriptive study was conducted among 4,340 patients undergoing surgery in nine departments from March to August 2009. The compliance rates were computed. The highest compliance rate (91.4%) during the sign-in period was with patients' confirmation of their identity, operative site, procedure, and consent. However, only 19.4% of the surgical sites were marked. In the time-out period, surgical teams had introduced themselves by name and role in 79% of the operations; and in 95.7% of the cases, the patient's name, the incision site, and the procedure had been confirmed. Antibiotic prophylaxis had been given within 60 min before the incision in 71% of the cases. For 83% of the operations, the surgeons reviewed crucial events whereas only 78.4% were reviewed by the anesthetists. Sterility had been confirmed by the operating room nurses for every patient, but the essential imaging was displayed at a rate of only 64.4%. In the sign-out period, nurses correctly confirmed the name of the procedure orally in 99.5% of the cases. Instrument, sponge, and needle counts were completed and the specimen was labeled in most cases, 96.8% and 97.6%, respectively. Equipment-related problems were identified in 4.4% of the cases, and 100% of them were addressed. The surgeon, anesthetist, and nurse reviewed the key concerns for recovery and management of the patient at the rate of 85.1%. The WHO checklist can be implemented in a developing country. However, compliance with some items was extremely low, reflecting different work patterns and cultural norms. Additional education and enforcement of checklist use is needed to improve compliance.
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