New Hampshire’s Hospitals and Surgery Centers Adopt Safety Checklist

A safety checklist are making hospitals even safer in New Hampshire.

Concord, NH, July 23, 2009 --( Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in New Hampshire are working harder than ever to increase patient safety and decrease harm. New Hampshire is the first state in the country where every hospital and participating ambulatory surgery center has voluntarily adopted a safety checklist for all invasive procedures, from surgeries in the operating room to colonoscopies during which patients are sedated.

The safety checklist protocol is designed to be simple, be widely applicable, and prevent common and potentially disastrous mistakes. It’s based on a checklist developed by the World Health Organization, which encourages different practice settings to adapt it to their own circumstances. The checklist at any facility identifies three phases of a procedure, and the medical team members confirm that they have completed the appropriate tasks for each one.

Some examples of the critical steps that might be included on a safety checklist to prevent errors are:

processes to verify the patient’s identity, procedure and correct surgical site;
processes to verify if the patients has any known allergies;
a “time out” before surgical incision; and
verbal confirmation after the procedure that instrument, sponge and needle counts are correct, if applicable

The New Hampshire Health Care Quality Assurance Commission coordinated the commitment among hospitals and surgery centers to adopt the safety checklist. The commission was established by law in 2005 to analyze quality of care issues and propose changes to improve the quality and safety of health care in New Hampshire. The membership includes a representative from each of the state’s 26 community hospitals and 24 ambulatory surgery centers.

Governor John Lynch applauded the statewide collaboration on the safety checklist.

“Reducing errors and infections, and improving quality all help in controlling the cost of health care,” said Governor Lynch. “The safety checklist is another way we’re working to share information and help accomplish those goals.”

The Foundation for Healthy Communities serves as the administrator of the N.H. Health Care Quality Assurance Commission. The Foundation, an affiliate organization of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, is a nonprofit corporation that exists to improve health and health care in New Hampshire. The Foundation’s partnerships include hospitals, health plans, clinicians, home care agencies, public policy leaders, and other health and social service organizations.

NH Hospital Association
Andrea Alley