Saturday, January 17, 2009


In order to lower the number of deaths and surgical complications – like cutting off the wrong leg – hospital teams from 8 hospitals around the world now go into surgery with a checklist.

Some genius has figured out that the doctors and nurses introducing themselves to one another before the operation will dramatically reduce the number of tragedies and botched jobs.

Apparently when a surgical team knows the names of those they're working with, there are fewer mutilations and lawsuits.

“Hand me the forceps, Fred.”

“I'm Agnes. I know the masks and funny hats can be confusing. Jane here is the gal you want.”

Using a 19-item checklist, the death rate fell enough to encourage the continued use of the idiot-proof list.

My favorite item on the list is that everything in the operating room should be kept sterile. Eureka! What a concept! Cleanliness in a place where you use sharp instruments to cut people open!

Also making the list: All the equipment needed for the operation must be in the operating room. This way, you won't have to go running all over the hospital looking for something while Dr. Carver is slicing and dicing and wondering why he got stuck with such a collection of incompetents.

Here's another key item to consider before an operation. Make sure you know the name of the patient and what he or she is in for. If she's in to have her tonsils taken out, for example, you don't want to remove a kidney.

Although I've not been privy to everything on the checklist, my gut tells me the average operation begins with the doctor making sure everyone is wearing a new pair of Latex gloves. But maybe my gut is overly optimistic.


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