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Checklists Can Help to Prevent Medical Errors and Improve Patient Outcomes

Amid all the high-tech devices involved in modern medicine, use of a simple checklist can be an important way to protect patient safety.

Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are aware that more and more evidence shows the effectiveness of checklists in preventing medical mistakes, such as surgical errors, and enhancing patient welfare.

The most recent evidence comes from a study presented last week at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago. The study involved 96 patients who were admitted to the hospital for heart problems.

At the time of discharge, researchers randomly divided the patients into two groups. The first group was given a 27-point checklist of steps to follow before they left the hospital. The other group got the normal discharge instructions.

The research found that the rates of readmission of the two groups varied greatly. After one month, only two percent of the patients whose doctors used the checklist had been readmitted. This compared to 20 percent of the other patients.

Even after six months, the readmission rates still showed a marked difference. In the group that used the checklist, the readmission figure was 23 percent. But it was 42 percent in other group.

For both doctors and patients, checklists are a reminder to do things that they should be doing. In the case of heart patients, the checklist provides a prompt to follow a low-salt diet. It also prompts doctors to schedule an appointment for the patient with a nutritionist to help make a low-salt diet a reality.

Source: "Checklist keeps heart failure patients out of hospital," USA Today, 3-25-12

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