KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

VA Checklists Save Lives, Study Says

The Associated Press: Going through a "surgery checklist" to confirm the basic procedures of a planned operation can help save lives, according to a study of 74 Veterans Affairs hospitals. In the hospitals being studied, "Surgery team members all created checklists and discussed them in briefings before, during and after surgery," reviewing basic information such as the reason for the surgery and the identity of the patient. Since the VA adopted this strategy in 2003, mortality rates dropped "from 17 per 1,000 surgeries each year before the program began to 14 per 1,000 surgeries per year afterward at the trained hospitals." Although the checklist approach is not standard procedure, a growing number of hospitals are shifting away from the traditionally surgeon-dominated operating room hierarchy to give voice to all members of the operating team when it comes to patient safety. The VA system is among the largest adopting such a move (Tanner, 10/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.