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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

What is a surgical safety checklist?

The surgical safety checklist is a patient safety communication tool that is used by a team of operating room professionals (nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and others) to discuss important details about each surgical case. In many ways, the surgical checklist is similar to an airline pilot’s checklist used just before take-off. It is a final check prior to surgery used to make sure everyone knows the important medical information they need to know about the patient, all equipment is available and in working order, and everyone is ready to proceed.

What information is included in a surgical safety checklist?

Some examples of items contained in the checklist:

The Briefing Phase:

  • Verify with patient name and procedure to be done
  • Allergy Check
  • Medications Check
  • Operation site, side and procedure
  • Lab tests, x-rays

The “Time Out” Phase:

  • Patient position
  • Operation site and side and procedure
  • Antibiotics check

The Debriefing Phase:

  • Surgeon reviews important items
  • Anesthesiologist reviews important items
  • Nurse reviews correct counts

Will a surgical safety checklist be used on me?

If you undergo a surgery at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, you can expect that the surgical safety checklist will be used as part of the procedure. It will be used by your health care team before, during and after your surgery to help the health care team familiarize themselves with your medical history and any special requirements that may be needed for your individual case.

How is the Surgical Safety Checklist's percent compliance calculated?

The surgical safety checklist is considered “performed” when the designated checklist coordinator confirms that surgical team members have implemented and/or addressed all of the necessary tasks and items in each of the three phases: Briefing; Time Out; and Debriefing. Therefore, the Surgical Safety Checklist compliance indicator is a process measure, measuring the degree to which all three phases of the Surgical Safety Checklist was performed correctly and appropriately for each surgical patient.

What will St. Joseph's Health Centre be doing with the information collected?

We publicly report this information on our website. It is also displayed on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website. It helps the hospital establish a baseline from which we can track our percentage of compliance over time. It will help us identify areas where we can improve our processes by ensuring they are aligned to this best practice communication tool.

Please see Surgical Safety Checklist Rates for more information.

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