Effectiveness of surgical safety checklists in improving patient safety

Paul S. Ragusa, Adam Bitterman, Brett Auerbach, William A. Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Wrong-site surgery is all too common. Despite more than a decade of campaigns by major organizations to prevent these events, there are still reports of such mistakes. This article reviews the recent literature on surgical safety checklists and other tools designed to prevent wrong-site surgery and improve patient safety in the operating room. Emphasis is placed on how well institutions comply with these guidelines, the perceptions and attitudes of those who are asked to implement them, and their effectiveness. The literature shows that the implementation of such protocols has improved patient safety. In general, these efforts are viewed favorably by operating room personnel. However, the role of these checklists and other tools in reducing wrong-sided surgeries has not been proven. The goal of the health care profession should be to continue to improve on the advances that have been made in implementing surgical checklists and preventing wrong-site surgery. Practitioners at the authors' institution are continuously searching for ways to improve on the current protocols to prevent wrong-site surgeries. The authors recently employed a protocol in which surgical instruments are kept in the back of the room, away from the patient, until completion of the surgical time-out. This practice helps to ensure that team members are not distracted or preoccupied with setting up equipment during the time-out. This approach also helps to mitigate the hierarchal style in the operating room.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e307-e310
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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