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The introduction of a surgical safety checklist in a tertiary referral obstetric centre


Background Surgery-related adverse events remain a significant and often under-reported problem. In a recent study, the introduction of a perioperative checklist by the WHO reduced deaths and complications by 46% and 36% respectively. The authors wished to evaluate the introduction of a surgical safety checklist in a busy obstetric tertiary referral centre by assessing staff attitudes, checklist compliance and effects upon patients.

Methods A questionnaire-based assessment was performed on staff working in obstetric theatres before and after the introduction of the surgical safety checklist. Checklist compliance was assessed at 3 months and 1 year. Patients were asked questions relating to the performance of the surgical safety checklist in order to evaluate any anxiety caused.

Results Non-medical staff were significantly more likely than medical staff to feel familiar with other team members both before (p<0.001) and after (p=0.03) the introduction of the checklist. 69.6% of all staff felt that interprofessional communication had improved following the introduction of the checklist. Compliance with pre- and postoperative checks was 61.2% and 67.6%, respectively, improving to 79.7% and 84.7% after 1 year. Although the majority of patients were aware of the checks being performed, this did not provoke anxiety.

Conclusion Following consultation with staff and patients, the authors managed to institute and sustain the performance of a surgical safety checklist for elective cases in obstetric theatres. While significant progress has been made, the authors recognise that further work is required in order to further evaluate and optimise this process.

  • Patient safety
  • obstetrics
  • communication
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • patient safety
  • teamwork

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