Have You Read The Checklist Manifesto?
by, 08-05-2010 at 03:28 PM (3069 Views)
A colleague gave me a copy of Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto for my birthday. While I had heard about the book, little did I know what I was in for when I opened the cover.
The book grabbed me from the start. Gawande quickly makes the case that knowledge is both a blessing and a curse. However, he advocates that in order to create safer healthcare environments and reduce medical errors, we must develop strategies that build on the knowledge we have.
Throughout the book, Gawande makes his points using stories we can easily relate to. One of my favorite passages is the story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger landing the US Airways flight on the Hudson. Although I was familiar with the media coverage of the event, I was interested to see what lessons could be applied to healthcare. Gawande discusses the strict discipline that pilots adhere to, particularly as it applies to the use of checklists. He writes, “The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with.”
What I found more interesting was the notion of the team that develops among the flight crew. In the case of the US Airways flight, when disaster struck, the pilot, copilot, and flight attendants worked as a team flawlessly following the protocols that had been rehearsed in training. Teamwork was the key to everyone surviving the disaster.
For me, the take away message from Gawande’s book is that humans are fallible. We cannot remember everything thus reliance on checklists should not be viewed as a weakness but an essential tool. Further, the importance of team work cannot be ignored. The aviation industry has learned to quickly establish cohesive teams in which each member plays a critical role and is respected for the knowledge they bring. These are lessons that we in healthcare must adopt in order to improve patient outcomes.