Postmortems

The promise, and the practice, of hospital checklists

Hospital checklists are meant to save lives — so why do they often fail? [article in Nature]
An easy method that promised to cut complications in surgery may not be so simple after all.”

In 2007 and 2008, surgical staff at eight hospitals around the world tested the checklist in a pilot study. The results were remarkable. Complications such as infections after surgery fell by more than one-third, and death rates dropped by almost half.

But this success story is beginning to look more complicated: some hospitals have been unable to replicate the impressive results of initial trials. An analysis of more than 200,000 procedures at 101 hospitals in Ontario, Canada, for example, found no significant reductions in complications or deaths after surgical-safety checklists were introduced.