Checklists help medical personnel provide thorough emergency treatment

From daily errands to long-term goals, people keep checklists to measure their progress in family life and on the job. Why should the medical professionals who handle life-and-death procedures in hospital emergency rooms be any different?

At Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, they aren’t. Doctors and nurses there have learned from a study on their emergency room procedures that having step-by-step checklists help them keep track of essential steps during surgeries.

“People have called [checklists] ‘dumbing down’ medicine, but what we showed is that even in this incredibly stressful, high-complexity situation, the teams that worked from a kind of pre-planned set of steps had three quarters lower likelihood of missing critical lifesaving steps,” emergency room physician Atul Gawande, M.D., told Reuters Health.

Gawande and his colleagues set up 17 operating room teams to undergo 106 simulated surgical situations, both with or without the checklists. When lists were used, the number of essential steps that were missed declined significantly, from 23 percent to six percent. The results of their test runs were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now, at Brigham and Woman’s as well as some other hospitals, operating room checklists have become standard procedure. Reuters reports that anesthesiologist Paul Preston, M.D., is working on an effort to make checklists part of the standard procedure at operating rooms at his hospital, Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, as well as other medical centers within the Kaiser system.

A checklist that keeps track of healthcare appointments as well as daily steps to improve one’s health helps people stay in top physical condition. On that list should be maintaining a balanced diet and taking dietary supplements such as Nu-Zymes from Dr. Newton’s Naturals. Nu-Zymes keep the digestive system functioning at its best by helping to alleviate occasional indigestion, acid reflux and lactose intolerance.

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