Implementing a pre-operative checklist to increase patient safety: a 1-year follow-up of personnel attitudes

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2010 Feb;54(2):176-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2009.02109.x. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Background: The operating room is a complex work environment with a high potential for adverse events. Protocols for perioperative verification processes have increasingly been recommended by professional organizations during the last few years. We assessed personnel attitudes to a pre-operative checklist ('time out') immediately before start of the operative procedure.

Methods: 'Time out' was implemented in December 2007 as an additional safety barrier in two Swedish hospitals. One year later, in order to assess how the checklist was perceived, a questionnaire was sent by e-mail to 704 persons in the operating departments, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, operation and anesthetic nurses and nurse assistants. In order to identify differences in response between professions, each alternative in the questionnaire was assigned a numerical value.

Results: The questionnaire was answered by 331 (47%) persons and 93% responded that 'time out' contributes to increased patient safety. Eighty-six percent thought that 'time out' gave an opportunity to identify and solve problems. Confirmation of patient identity, correct procedure, correct side and checking of allergies or contagious diseases were considered 'very important' by 78-84% of the responders. Attitudes to checking of patient positioning, allergies and review of potential critical moments were positive but differed significantly between the professions. Attitudes to a similar checklist at the end of surgery were positive and 72-99% agreed to the different elements.

Conclusion: Staff attitudes toward a surgical checklist were mostly positive 1 year after their introduction in two large hospitals in central Sweden.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Checklist*
  • Communicable Diseases / diagnosis
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • General Surgery
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Nurse Anesthetists
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Operating Room Nursing
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Patient Identification Systems
  • Patient Positioning
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Safety*
  • Surgical Equipment
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden