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What is a surgical checklist?

A surgical checklist helps your surgical team work together to make your surgery safer. Just like pilots and co-pilots review steps prior to take off, while in the air, and before landing, surgical teams have found that they too can benefit from using a checklist. Once in the operating room, they review a few items to help the team function well.
  • They discuss what type of surgery they are going to perform and on whom.
  • They make sure they have what they need right there with them. 
  • They make sure they know who is in the room and what their task is during surgery.
These checklists don’t cover every detail about surgery -- they aren’t designed for that -- but they do cover the important points to make sure surgery will be done safely. The checklists help the team talk to one another before, during, and after surgery. International experience with these checklists -- headed up by the World Health Organization -- has helped surgical teams to do a better job all over the world. They cannot prevent every type of surgical error, but can help reduce mistakes if used the right way.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.