Surgical teams are more likely to use safety checklists when patients know about them and ask those teams to be sure to follow them, say researchers at Tulane University Hospital and Clinic in New Orleans.
Their study, presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' conference, compared conduct during 104 procedures as secretly monitored by students who were observing the cases. In 43 cases, patients were told about the World Health Organization's surgical safety checklist; in 61 others, they were not. When patients were aware of the checklist's existence, compliance was higher on all 26 checklist items.
The differences were significant among 19 of the 26 items. For example, the percentage of teams that reviewed sponge and instrument counts rose from 19% when they were operating on uninformed patients to 87% when their patients knew there was a safety checklist to follow.
Only 35% of the informed patients said they'd previously heard of the WHO checklist, but they all said that their existence made them feel more comfortable going into surgery.