ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



July 2013



Checklist Manifesto

Written by , Posted in Reviews

checklist manifesto

We were standing in a bookshop in Kilkenney, Ireland, which we were visiting on our honeymoon. I had loaded my kindle up with plenty to read, and even bought a paperback (book one of the A Song of Ice and Fire) to read during the no-electronics portion of the flights. But I was in a bookstore, and you all know what that means.

The synopsis of the book struck me as kind of interesting, and I thought it might help me at work. The basic premise is that checklists really can save lives. Not lengthy, twenty-page checklists (i.e., what I prepare before leaving town for two weeks), but five-to-seven item checklists that serve as triggers for the really important things you should do in a given incident. He pulls examples from flight emergencies, financial deals and even surgery.

He was asked to help reduce complication rates in surgeries by the WHO, and prepared a three-part, 19-question checklist to be used in high-tech and low-tech hospitals around the world. During the pilot, even the fanciest hospitals saw a highly significant decrease in infection rates, reducing deaths. He repeatedly points out how simple this seems – and how those with high levels of expertise might find checklists insulting, especially when steps seem so basic. But he backs up his assertions with evidence of their success that is pretty convincing.

It was a quick read. Even at 200 pages, I pretty much flew through it. And given my field, I think there are certainly some areas where checklists would be extremely helpful. If you could see potential for improvement in your field as well, I suggest checking it out.

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