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Checklists Emphasize Protocol, Providing Life-Saving Reminders


Dr. Elliot Haut, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, began designing a blood clot prevention protocol with his team back in 2006, intending to decrease the mortality rates for preventable blood clots. Dr. Haut believes that a checklist can improve care for all patients and guide doctors into making treatment decisions based on strict protocols rather than assumptions about a patient’s biology, risk factors, or environment.

The Hopkins checklist is a tool that not only lessens any disparities that may exist in treatment between patients, but provides doctors with an effective “decision support tool”. Checklists are useful reminders of proper protocol and have led to life-saving improvements. For example, a checklist reminding healthcare workers to wash their hands led to a 66% decrease in infections in 18 months. Post-checklists for surgeries led to a 35% drop in complications and a decrease in death rates by 47%.

Although not all medical mistakes are a result of forgetfulness, a checklist can do more than remind doctors of protocol. Dr. Haute believes that checklists can interrupt preconceptions about a patient’s health by disentangling any assumptions that could potentially factor into a medical decision. With defined steps clearly outlined, a checklist reduces human judgment and allows for more uniform standardized treatment.

With the intervention of the blood clot prevention checklist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the incidents of potentially preventable blood clots in patients dropped to zero since it was put into place in 2008. All patients who enter the hospital, whether for a birth, brain surgery, or even psychiatric treatment, are now assessed for blood clot prevention.

At The Law Offices of Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. and Associates, our expert legal team handles a variety of medical malpractice and birth injury cases throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dr. Wilson brings over 30 years of legal experience to his law firm and has obtained more than $100 million in compensation.

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