World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new safety checklist for operation theatres around the world to prevent surgical errors and improve patient safety.
Developed under the leadership of Dr Atul Gawande, surgeon and professor at the Harvard University, the WHO Surgical Safety
Checklist identifies three phases of an operation before the use of anaesthesia, before the beginning of the operation and before the patient leaves the operating theatre. The first edition of the checklist was released on Tuesday.
In each phase a checklist coordinator confirms that the surgical team has completed its tasks before it proceeds. In the first phase, the patient's known allergies would be checked and in the last phase surgical instruments, sponges and needles have to be counted.
"Although there have been major improvements over the last few decades, the quality and safety of surgical care has been dismayingly variable in every part of the world," Dr Gawande said.
The Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative that led to the development of the new checklist "aims to change this by raising the standards that patients anywhere can expect," he said.
According to the WHO 234 million major surgeries are performed every year which is equivalent to one for every 25 people and these significant numbers suffer or even die because of preventable complications.
"Preventable surgical injuries and deaths are now a growing concern," Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO said on Tuesday. "Using the checklist is the best way to reduce surgical errors and improve patient safety," she added.
Several studies have shown that in developing countries 5 to 10 per cent of patients die during major surgery. One in 150 die from general anaesthesia in sub-Saharan Africa.
Major complications are also reported in 3 to 16 per cent of patients in industrialised countries, while infections and other complications are a serious threat.
First results from 1000 patients in eight pilot sites worldwide indicate that the checklist has resulted in substantial reductions in complications and deaths.
The checklist will be finalized for distribution by the end of this year after completion of evaluations on the eight pilot projects.