I love checklists, and I couldn't get through my daily life without them. I make lists for all sorts of things, personal and business. I was extremely surprised to learn that doctors and surgeons typically do not use checklists when treating patients, but are trained with the expectation that they will hold all the important information in their heads. This system seems dangerous, and SafeSurg.org is working to change it.

The WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives Checklist was created by an international group of experts gathered by the WHO with the goal of improving the safety of patients undergoing surgical procedures around the globe. Input from anesthesiologists, operating theatre nurses, surgeons, patients and other professionals was used in the development of this tool. Both small and large scale clinical testing of the checklist has been performed culminating in a multi-site pilot study with results published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 2009. In sites that ranged from small district hospitals to large medical centers in diverse geographic settings, the use of a 19-item checklist was demonstrated to reduce the complications and mortality associated with a variety of surgical procedures by greater than 30 percent. The checklist has been designed to be simple to use and applicable in many settings. It is currently in active use in operating rooms around the world.

As a health care consumer I would love to have an open source resource with hundreds of medical checklists that I could use to inform my health care decisions in consultation with my doctors. I understand that every health care decision is unique to the patient at hand and that doctors need to be free to use their discretion, but I believe that having a checklist would at least push doctors to carefully consider any deviations that they decide to make from "standard procedure".

Also by Atul Gawande, the creator of SafeSurg is The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

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