Teams less likely to miss life-saving steps when using a checklist during an OR crisis

Medical teams that used checklists during a crisis in the operating room were 74 percent less likely to skip a potentially life-saving step, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

For the study, headed by surgeon Atul Gawande, author of “The Checklist Manifesto”, operating room emergencies, such as cardiac arrest and massive hemorrhage, were simulated more than 100 times for 17 operating room teams using a robotic patient.  Half the time, the operating room team followed a checklist for protocol, the other half they used judgment and experience. 

The results found that teams following the checklist missed potentially life saving steps 6% of the time, while teams working with no checklist missed steps 23% of the time.  Ninety-seven percent of participants reported that they prefer the use of a checklist during a crisis. 

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, January 17, 2013; The New England Journal of Medicine,, January 22, 2013)