LHSC to post its surgical safety checklist rates on a monthly basis


For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2010

(LONDON, Ontario) – London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) released its three month average compliance rates for surgical safety checklists today, as part of a province wide public reporting initiative started by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Going forward, the hospital will also post its monthly compliance rate on its website at www.lhsc.on.ca.

"At London Health Sciences Centre, patient safety is our priority and we strongly support the use of surgical safety checklists as a tool to enhance communications and safety in the operating room,” said chief operating officer Karen Belaire.

Since April 1, 2010, both University Hospital and Victoria Hospital reported an average compliance rate of 62% for the reporting period of April 1 to June 30, 2010. This means all three phases of the checklist were fully completed in 62% of all surgery cases performed at LHSC. In the remaining cases, one or more elements of the checklist, such as the verbal debrief at the end of a surgery, may have not have been completed.

"While we already have many safety checks in our operating rooms, as an organization committed to patient safety, we consider the completion rates for the first three months to be low,” said Belaire.

LHSC’s surgical teams are working diligently to use the checklist in its operating rooms, including enhanced communications, training sessions, and policy and process reviews. Dr. John Denstedt, chief of surgery, LHSC added: “I am pleased to report that since July 1, our compliance rate has risen to 89% for University Hospital and 91% for Victoria Hospital. This is the result of staff, nurses and physicians working together as a team to enhance patient safety at LHSC.”

Checklists were first developed and used by aviators to ensure the safe operation of hard-to-fly aircraft. LHSC’s surgical safety checklist is an evidence-based communication tool designed to help the surgical team discuss important details of a patient’s case at three key phases of the surgery: before the patient is given anaesthesia; before the operation is started; and before the surgery is finished. The goals of the checklist are to promote teamwork and improve interdisciplinary communication to reduce preventable complications and mortality.

The government’s next surgical safety checklist report will be posted January 30, 2011 for July to December rates. Said Belaire, “We are committed to continuous improvement, accountability and transparency, and as a result, LHSC will post its surgical safety checklist compliance rates on a monthly basis to its website.”

For more information on surgery safety checklists, please visit: www.lhsc.on.ca


About London Health Sciences Centre

London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 135 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and Lawson Health Research Institute - a joint research initiative with St Joseph’s Health Care, London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 30 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s 10,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

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For more information contact:
Stephan Beckhoff
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

After-hours assistance:
Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call

Visit the LHSC Media web site at www.lhsc.on.ca/media

Media Backgrounder

1. What is a Surgical Safety Checklist (checklist)?

The surgical safety checklist is a patient safety communication tool used by the operating room team (nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and others) to discuss important details of a surgery at three distinct phases:

1) Before the patient is put to sleep (Briefing)
2) Just before the first incision (Time Out)
3) During or just after surgical closure (Debriefing).

The checklist is useful because it consolidates all checklists performed by different disciplines and organizes them at those key phases. As a team communication tool, it reduces reliance on memory so that one person is not responsible for remembering every single step needed for a safe surgery.

In many ways, the surgical checklist is similar to an airline pilot’s checklist used just before take-off. It is a last minute check to make sure everything is in working order, all equipment is available and everyone is ready to proceed.

To view a surgical team perform a surgery safety checklist, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrpSmxAwV4E

2. How many surgeries have been performed at LHSC since April 1, 2010?

There were 6114 surgeries performed at LHSC since April 1, 2010.

3. How many operating rooms does LHSC have?

LHSC has a total of 31 operating rooms. Victoria Hospital has 15 and University Hospital has 16 operating rooms.

4. Before April 1, what safety measures were done in the operating room?

Most of the safety procedures found in the checklist were performed in the operating prior to April 1, 2010, including:

  • Surgical pause
  • Pre-operative antibiotics to reduce the likelihood of infection
  • Surgical site marking
  • Patient identifiers
  • Instrument counts at the end of the surgery

Some of these measures have been performed for many years. The surgical safety checklist consolidates all safety checks performed by all disciplines (i.e., anaethestists, nurses, surgeons) into one process.

5. Will patients get a team that does not use the surgical safety checklist?

No. The safety checklist is used in every surgery.

Patients and their families are encouraged to speak with their care team about the surgical safety checklist.

6. Can the percentage compliance rates be found for individual surgeons?

No. This is a communication tool that requires input from different members of the operating room team including nurses, anaesthetists and others, not just the surgeon.

7. When will the next checklist compliance rate be publicly reported?

The next required report will be in January 2011. It will cover the period between July, 1 and December, 31, 2010.

However, LHSC is choosing to report its compliance rates on a monthly basis. You will be able to access this information on its website at www.lhsc.on.ca