Checklist could save hospitals thousands

Implementing a checklist for surgical procedures could spell six-figure annual savings for many hospitals, concludes a study published in the September issue of Health Affairs.

The study's authors focused on the use of a checklist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and eight other facilities that are part of the World Health Organization's "Safe Surgery Saves Lives" for one calendar year. Such a checklist would ensure the appropriate antibiotics are administered, the necessary equipment is in the OR and all open questions from the surgical team have been answered, the Boston Globe reports.

Researchers had estimated that implementing a pre-surgical checklist program in a hospital would cost $12,635, and $11 every time the checklist was used, primarily due to the increased prescription of antibiotics.

However, the study found that a single major surgical complication costs $13,372--more than implementing a checklist--and that complications occur in 3 percent of all surgical procedures. The use of a checklist would reduce complication rates by at least 10 percent, for a net cost reduction of $8,652 for every complication that is avoided.

In addition, a hospital that used a checklist would save about $25.96 per non-cardiac procedure, the study concluded. If an average hospital performed 4,000 such surgeries a year, it would reap an annual savings of $103,829.

For more:
- read the study abstract
- read the Boston Globe blog item