Checklists as effective, important as ever

Doctors introduced the concept of checklists to the healthcare setting to prevent errors, especially for staff that are often fatigued and distracted. Checklists now play a large part in reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), Kay Temple wrote in an Infection Control Today article.

Central line bloodstream infection rates fell 44 percent since 2008 and surgical site infections dropped more than 20 percent--thanks, in part, to hospitals using checklists. Hospitals and healthcare leaders can make checklists most effective when they create a culture of safety within their organization, and make it a priority in the daily care routine. Leaders should ensure all care team members feel open to communicate concerns and suggestions when it comes to checklists for HAI prevention, Temple wrote.

With reimbursement for HAIs increasingly tied to government and third-party payers, healthcare systems and hospitals must put even more focus on money-saving checklists that help prevent infections, Temple noted, but only in instances that have proven, well-established safety practices and where standardizing behaviors can solve problems.

Testing and implementing new checklists should involve controlled trials, Temple wrote, citing research from Diana Soule McDowell and Sara A. McComb, who wrote "Safety Checklist Briefings: A Systematic Review of the Literature," which was published by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Journal. "We will not be able to create a study with and without a checklist," McComb says in their piece. "We are past that. But, we need to design more rigorous testing of tools that we think may make jobs more efficient and easier."

McDowell and McComb also called for all parts of the hospital to go beyond checklists to a multidisciplinary change in attitude toward infection prevention, Temple wrote.

Conversely, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported surgical safety checklists didn't improve operative mortality, readmission rates and emergency department visits within 30 days after discharge at Canadian hospitals, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the article
- read the research paper