Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2018

Is it Time for a Checklist Double-Check?

3 tips to get the most out of surgery's essential safety tool.

Thereza Ayad

Thereza Ayad, DNP, RN, CNOR


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
GROUP DISCUSSION Empower every member of your team to speak up when the checklist alerts them to potential patient safety issues.

You can learn a lot from near-misses. Oftentimes, they’re proof that the procedures you have in place to prevent wrong-site, wrong-procedure or wrong-person surgery are, in fact, working. They’re also opportunities to take a hard look at your policies and procedures to add another layer of protection to your safety efforts.

Between 2005 and 2016, the Joint Commission received 1,225 nationwide reports of wrong-site surgeries. Here in Massachusetts alone, there were 75 reports of wrong-site surgery in 2017. Those troublesome trends should motivate you to optimize use of the surgical checklist to ensure surgeons perform the right procedure at the right site and on the right patient. Here’s how we did it.

1. Safe starts

In pre-op, the surgeon, a nurse and the anesthesia provider verify the patient’s identity and the procedure site and side. We built our facility’s safety checklist into our electronic health record and require that staff complete the pre-op verifications — what we call “hard stops” — before we can move the patient to the OR. In fact, staff are unable to complete the pre-op documentation in the EHR if the safety checks are not entered.

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