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HOSPITAL SAFETY VIDEO: Checklists Improve Hospital Safety
HOSPITAL SAFETY VIDEO: Checklists Improve Hospital Safety

(April 8, 2010 - Insidermedicine)

Collections of simple treatment checklists can substantially reduce hospital death rates, according to research published online ahead of print in the British Medical Journal.

Previous research has shown that there is an increased risk of dying in hospital if:

•    Hospital occupancy levels are high when the patient is admitted

•    Nurse staffing levels are low

•    The patient is admitted on a weekend

Researchers from North West London Hospitals NHS Trust developed eight sets of treatment checklists based on clinical guidelines that have been shown to reduce death rates when used together. These eight “care bundles” specifically targeted 13 medical conditions that are associated with the highest hospital death rates, including stroke, heart failure, and obstructive lung disease. The investigators then compared hospital death rates from the year 2006-07, before the care bundles were put to use, with those of 2007-08, after they were implemented.

In the year after the care bundles were implemented, the overall death rate at the hospital dropped by nearly 15%, becoming the lowest of any acute care hospital in England. Compared to the previous year, there were over 8,000 fewer deaths related to the 13 targeted medical conditions and over 250 fewer deaths related to other medical conditions.

Today’s research demonstrates how simple but carefully designed treatment checklists can save lives when used in hospitals to guide treatment.