Surgical checklist reduces patient complications and mortality

Use of the Surgical Patient Safety System (SURPASS) checklist, a multidisciplinary surgical safety checklist which includes items such as medication, marking of the operative side, and use of postoperative instructions, can reduce patient mortality and complications, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers found that after the checklist was added to surgical practice, the percentage of patients with at least one complication fell from 15.4% to 10.6% and mortality rates fell from 1.5% to .8%. 

The researchers note during the study period, only about 80% of checklist items were completed, which may have led to an underestimation of the effect of the checklist.

(Sources:  The New England Journal of Medicine,, November 11, 2010; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, November 12, 2010)