Surgical safety checklist could cut surgical malpractice claims

Nearly one-third of all surgical malpractice claims of patients that had undergone surgery might have been intercepted by using the SURPASS comprehensive surgical safety checklist, according to a study in the Annals of Surgery. 

For the study, researchers in the Netherlands examined claims records from a large Dutch insurance provider for medical liability.  Data were compared to the  SURPASS Surgical Safety Checklist, which covers the entire surgical pathway from admittance to discharge, to assess which incidents the checklist might have prevented. 

The researchers found that of a total of 412 contributing factors, 29% might have been intercepted by the SURPASS checklist. The checklist might have prevented 40% of deaths and 29% of incidents leading to permanent damage. 

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, January 18, 2011; Annals of Surgery, http://journals.lww.com, January, 2011)