Are safety checklists your new best friend?

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: There is increasing evidence within the veterinary profession that the use of a surgical safety checklist reduces post-operative complications. In this presentation, we will present the science behind why checklists work and how they can help improve our performance by promoting teamwork and communication and increasing situational awareness. We will also give tips on implementing checklists in your practice.

: Everyone knows that horrible sinking feeling when they realise that they have made a mistake, but to err is human – so how can we prevent error and keep our patients safe? In 1999, Atul Gawande suggested that at least 50% of surgical complications in people could be avoided by improving perioperative routines. The launch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Safe Surgery Saves Lives campaign and the publication of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC) in 2008 inspired veterinary hospitals to modify the WHO SSC for use with their surgical patients. Studies on the success of the World Health Organisation Surgical Safety Checklist reported a 47% reduction in deaths, a 36% reduction in post-operative complications and a 48% reduction in infections. Checklists have also been found to improve communication and teamwork in the operating theatre. Checklists are quick to perform, cheap, easily modified to suit the intended clinical environment and straightforward to implement. The checklist is completed in three stages; sign in (before induction), time out (before skin incision) and sign out (before recovery). By performing each of these stages at the correct time errors which may occur due to slips, lapses, cognitive overload, and distraction can be avoided.

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