Atul Gawande is a staff member of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. His other books include Better and Complications. And the NPR story I just listened to is enough all by itself to make me get my lists back out. I've been avoiding my reputation as the List Queen ... I think I got embarrassed. (Put down the ducky. Put it down.) Why would I not want to be seen as efficient? Intentional? On top of it? Nearly fifty years old, and I don't think evidence of effort is cool enough? (Put it down!)
Despite all the evidence, Gawande admits that even he was skeptical that using a checklist in everyday practice would help to save the lives of his patients.
"I didn't expect it," Gawande says with a chuckle. "It's massively improved the kind of results that I'm getting. When we implemented this checklist in eight other hospitals, I started using it because I didn't want to be a hypocrite. But hey, I'm at Harvard, did I need a checklist? No."
Or so he thought.
"I was in that 20 percent. I have not gotten through a week of surgery where the checklist has not caught a problem."
(Click to see a sample "Surgical Safety Checklist".)