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Surgical Safety Checklist

The use of a surgical safety checklist, similar to a pilot’s pre-flight checklist, has been shown to help surgical teams communicate effectively in the operating room. This can prevent harm to patients including infections, wrong site surgery and even death. Successful checklist use is estimated to save the lives of up to 500 South Carolinians each year.

In 2011 the leaders of every hospital in the state committed to learning more and educating their staff members on the use of the checklist in their operating rooms. SCHA forged a collaboration with Atul Gawande’s Ariadne Labs at the Harvard School of Public Health to assist in these efforts, culminating in the Safe Surgery 2015 initiative.

The results were staggering. South Carolina saw a 22 percent reduction in post-surgical deaths in hospitals that completed the statewide program according to Ariadne Lab’s research, which also represented the first evidence that the implementation of checklists could improve outcomes on a larger scale.

With these results, South Carolina offers a national model of best practices in implementing a team-based, communication checklist to drive quality improvement in the operating room.

For more information about the surgical safety checklist effort, contact Beth Morgan at