WHO Surgical Safety Checklist reduces postsurgical deaths: 2 study insights

A study published in the Annals of Surgery examined how the World Health Organization's Surgical Safety Checklist affected postsurgical deaths.

Alex B. Haynes, MD, associate director of Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University's Ariadne Labs Safe Surgery Program with colleagues from Harvard and the South Carolina Hospital Association collaborated to examine the effectiveness of the checklist.

Researchers invited all hospitals in South Carolina to participate in a twelve-step implementation program with Ariadne Labs. Fourteen hospitals representing approximately 40 percent of all inpatient surgical cases in the state participated.

Researchers compared 30-day post-surgery mortality outcomes between these hospitals and the nonparticipating state hospitals.

Here's what they found.

1. Hospitals in the program, recorded a 3.38 percent post-surgery death rate in 2010. It fell to 2.84 percent in 2013 after implementation of the program.

2. For hospitals not in the program, the mortality rate rose from 3.5 percent in 2010 to 3.71 percent in 2017.

Dr. Haynes said in a release, "That is a major reduction in post-surgical mortality and it demonstrates that when done right, the Surgical Safety Checklist can significantly improve patient safety at large scale."

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