Features  |   May 2014
Checklists: Make Them Part of Your Emergency Plan
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Critical Care / Obstetric Anesthesia / Pediatric Anesthesia / Practice Management / Trauma / Burn Care / Features
Features   |   May 2014
Checklists: Make Them Part of Your Emergency Plan
ASA Monitor 05 2014, Vol.78, 20-21.
ASA Monitor 05 2014, Vol.78, 20-21.
Anesthesiology is unique among medical specialties in that most anesthetics and surgical procedures are uneventful. When a critical event does happen, there is often little or no warning. Things happen quickly, and a previously routine procedure can rapidly become life-threatening; the initial response to a critical event may determine its outcome. Anesthesiologists must be ready to detect and manage unpredicted emergencies at any time. One interesting study found that early recognition and effective management of complications were as important to improving mortality as was avoiding complications during surgery altogether.1 
Emergency readiness requires that the caregiver have the knowledge, skills and equipment necessary to resolve the problem, but it’s easy to forget critical items when things are not going well. The use of checklists and established procedures, long an accepted practice in aviation, can help us to quickly establish a diagnosis and begin treatment. Checklists may also offer unanticipated benefits: One hospital found that adequate staffing was maintained more often and reporting of critical events improved after the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist was implemented.2  In fact, ambulatory surgical centers can receive an incentive payment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services if they use a checklist.
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