And we're not just talking about med students who can't tell a scalpel from the plastic knife they got with their Wendy's baked potato. Researchers did a massive study spanning eight hospitals in different countries. Some of the facilities were state of the art, while others may have left the least drunk doctor in charge of the defibrillator. In all cases, using a checklist cut the death rate of all surgeries in half, while complications dropped by more than a third.
Another study looking at data from 103 different hospitals showed that a simple checklist gave them a 66 percent decrease in the number of potentially fatal catheter infections, while yet another checklist has been shown to increase the number of preventive health measures physicians take. That's all it took -- a little piece of paper to remind them the right way to do it.
"I was gonna pour lemon juice onto his kidneys, but then I checked the list."
Still, medical professionals don't like to use them -- they tend to find them patronizing and just plain annoying. Yet others point out that airline pilots (another group of highly trained, proud professionals) have been obsessing over checklists for decades and not bitching about it. So if one highly complex, life-or-death task benefits from poring over a checklist, then why not apply it to the guys tinkering around inside your body?