Hospitals in South Carolina which began using a new surgical checklist experienced fewer post-surgical deaths, according to a new study released Monday.
A five-year project between Ariadne Labs, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) examined 14 hospitals in the state which had fully implemented the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist. The checklist includes 19 points for doctors such as an operating room plan and discussion of possible surgery risks.
The hospitals which implemented the checklist saw a 16 percent reduction in patient deaths within 30 days of surgery from 2010 until 2013, according to the findings published in the Annals of Surgery. South Carolina’s other 44 hospitals which did not participate reported a 6 percent increase during the same span.
“That is a major reduction in post-surgical mortality and it demonstrates that when done right, the Surgical Safety Checklist can significantly improve patient safety at large scale,” lead author Alex Haynes of the Ariadne Labs Safe Surgery Program stated.
All South Carolina hospitals had been invited to participate in the Safe Surgery South Carolina program. The 14 hospitals represented nearly 40 percent of the inpatient surgery volume in the state, according to the SCHA. Researchers compared the 30-day post-surgery mortality outcomes between these hospitals with the mortality outcomes of the rest of the hospitals in the state. Surgical procedures in the analysis represent a wide range of specialties, from neurological, thoracic and cardiac, to soft tissue and orthopedic.
The study found that the post-surgery death rate dropped from 3.38 percent to 2.84 among participating hospitals. In the other 44 hospitals, mortality actually increased from 3.5 percent to 3.71 percent.
“We are honored to be a learning lab for the rest of the country,” SCHA President and CEO Thornton Kirby said. “The study validates what we hoped and believed from the outset — if you change the operating room culture of how you communicate and coordinate your efforts, you can produce better outcomes.”
Funding for the study came from the Branta and Rx Foundations, AHRQ.