Surgical checklists

Checklists save lives! A major new study in the journal Annals of Surgery shows a 22% reduction in post-surgical deaths when a simple WHO 19-item checklist was used. It wasn’t a true random experiment, but the clear results are still impressive.
“Safety checklists are not a piece of paper that somehow magically protect patients, but rather they are a tool to help change practice, to foster a specific type of behavior in communication, to change implicit communication to explicit in order to create a culture where speaking up is permitted and encouraged and to create an environment where information is shared between all members of the team.”
Alex Haynes
Lead author of the study.
Quoted in a Washington Post story on the study.
One of the authors told the ScienceDaily website that:
“Safety checklists can significantly reduce death in surgery. But they won’t if surgical teams treat them as just ticking a box.”
Atul Gawande

Haynes, A. B., Edmondson, L., Lipsitz, S. R., Molina, G., Neville, B. A., Singer, S. J., Moonan, A. T., Childers, A. K., Foster, R., Gibbons, L. R., Gawande, A. A., and Berry, W. R. (2017). Mortality Trends After a Voluntary Checklist-based Surgical Safety Collaborative. Annals of Surgery, online April 8, 2017, doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002249

Roger Cruickshank on the perfect flight

Roger Cruickshank is a front-line RAF Typhoon pilot. The Queen’s version of Top Gun‘s ‘best of the best, tip of the spear’. He has intercepted 22 different Russian aircraft, including the Tu-95 Bear, Tu-160 Blackjack, Il-78 Midas, Su-34 Fullback, Mig-31 Foxhound and An-26 Curl. Before this posting he was a RAF flight instructor and Olympic skier.

So when he talks about making mistakes and perfect flights, we might all learn something. Turns out, he’s not perfect. But he knows it. And he knows how to keep getting closer.

This quote is from the (excellent) aerospace podcast Xtended, episode 65:

I’m not anywhere where I want to be, because I think we are perfectionists.

We’re always trying to be the best we can, and to get better and better at the skill because you always miss something, every single flight. If someone was to tell me that, “no no, I had a perfect flight” — they were absolutely lying. There is no way!

We are always making mistakes. As long as we admit to them and be honest about them, then everyone learns, we learn, and we get better at what we’re doing.

It’s the perpetual pursuit. And if any pilot thinks they’ve had a perfect flight, they are just situational unaware!