Hospital ORs Urged to Join Tomorrow's Action Day

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is asking hospital personnel to use March 10, designated as Sprint Action Day, to accelerate their facilities' testing and use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. The day is part of this year's Sprint -- a campaign to have every U.S. hospital test the checklist at least once with one operating room team by April 1, 2009.

IHI's map shows hospitals across the country have tested it, plan to test it, or would like to implement it. The not-for-profit institute says the checklist is a tool that has shown dramatic results, citing a Jan. 14, 2009, article in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine that described how hospitals in eight cities worldwide reduced deaths and complications during major operations by more than one-third. Inpatient deaths following major operations declined by more than 40 percent. Intended to improve communication among the surgical team and to be read aloud by a nurse and/or anesthetist, the checklist lists specific checks to be made prior to anesthesia, incision, and the patient's departure from the operating room.

A Sprint Action Day conference call on March 10 will include IHI President and CEO Don Berwick, IHI Director Fran Griffin, and key participants in the WHO Safe Surgery Saves Lives program. IHI says surgical safety experts will be available on March 10 to answer questions online throughout the day.

WHO adapted the checklist for use in the United States and expects it to be modified to fit local conditions. The adapted checklist aligns with the Joint Commission Universal Protocol. Tools available at the IHI site include a checklist starter kit, links to a Joint Commission February 2009 newsletter, instructional videos, and more.

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