Surgical safety checklist could save $28M in S.C.

Staff Report
Published April 8, 2014

Health care professionals across South Carolina recently met to discuss a surgical safety checklist initiative that is expected to save at least 500 lives per year.

The American College of Surgeons, in partnership with Safe Surgery 2015 and the S.C. Hospital Association, hosted the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum South Carolina last Tuesday.

Their goal is to implement a surgical checklist in 100% of operating rooms in the state. The list includes briefing and debriefing discussion topics, along with steps to take before induction of anesthesia, before skin incision and before the patient leaves the room.

South Carolina was chosen to lead the effort because of the S.C. Hospital Association’s 2009 Operation: Safe Surgery initiative. At the time, 80% of the state’s hospitals with surgical services had implemented the World Health Organization’s checklist in at least one operating room, according to the American College of Surgeons.

In addition to saving lives during surgeries, the American College of Surgeons expects the use of the checklist to prevent 2,000 complications and save an estimated $28 million in health care costs.

The forum’s keynote speaker, Dr. Atul Gawande, executive director of Safe Surgery 2015, said South Carolina’s efforts are unprecedented.

“We have been working in partnership with the S.C. Hospital Association and its members to achieve the underlying culture change that is needed to improve communication and teamwork in the operating room,” Gawande said in a statement.

He said the groups have been working on implementing the checklist in hospitals for more than 3 1/2 years, but every hospital can improve.

The program encourages surgeons to play a key role in driving use of the checklist and fostering communication in the operating room, according to the American College of Surgeons.

“The Safe Surgery 2015 program and the efforts in South Carolina are perfect examples of how we can use existing tools and resources to effectively advance patient care and benefit the entire health care system,” said Dr. David B. Hoyt, executive director of the American College of Surgeons.

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