Yet More Evidence that Checklists Save Lives

Consumer Health Quality CouncilA study published in the British Medical Journal , covered in the Baltimore Sun, found that the use of checklists in hospital ICUs reduced patient deaths by 10%.

HCFA and the Consumer Health Quality Council (, are supporting legislation that will require the Department of Public Health to develop checklists for use in hospitals in MA and require hospitals to report on their use of checklists.

The checklist program, which was developed by Dr. Peter Pronovost at John’s Hopkins, encourages medical providers to follow five basic safety precautions, including hand washing, to reduce the spread of infections. Importantly, checklists are paired with an education program that encourages medical staff to speak up when safety rules are not being followed.

Prior to the study we knew that the checklist developed by Dr. Pronovost helped to reduce bloodstream infections, (which may be acquired when catheters or central lines are used) however this is the first study to demonstrate that this particular checklist can actually reduce the number of deaths. A surgical safety checklist developed by Dr. Atul Gawande has also been proven to reduce complications and deaths (read an earlier blog post.

In the study Pronovost and his team evaluated the death rate of patients 65 and older in intensive care units and found a 10% drop since the program was implemented in 2004. Following its implementation in Michigan the infection prevention program has gained popularity nation wide with hospitals in over 40 states, including many in Massachusetts, implementing the Hopkins program.

Over 30,000 patients die each year from bloodstream infections. Not only can checklists help prevent infections and reduce deaths, they can also decrease complications during and after surgery and reduce medical errors. To help advance our effort to implement the use of checklists, call your Massachusetts State Representative and Senator and ask them to support HCFA’s bill requiring the use of checklists in hospitals! (Senate Docket #1766 or House Docket #879). Please read our fact sheet on the bill (.doc) for more details.
-Margot Schwartz

About HCFA

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2 Responses to Yet More Evidence that Checklists Save Lives

  1. Pingback: Making a List and Checking It Twice | Knowmoremed's Blog

  2. This is game changing information. One would have thought that checklist would have been used for years in Hospitals. Many other professions use checklist and perhaps medicine needs to examine its standard operating procedures immediately. With over 30,000 patients dying each year from bloodstream infections checklist need to become the norm not the trial. Saving 10% or 3000 lives from such a small change is amazing. Since checklists help prevent bloodstream infections and reduce deaths, decrease complications during and after surgery, and reduce medical errors the use must become mandatory. I would hate to be a hospital corporation in a courtroom trying to defend the position of not using checklist in a hospital after the death of a patient. The liability is palpable. As Huntsville Alabama Chiropractors, we will look into checklist for our practices to see if we too could benefit from adding such a change.

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