Clinical review: checklists - translating evidence into practice

Crit Care. 2009;13(6):210. doi: 10.1186/cc7792. Epub 2009 Dec 31.


Checklists are common tools used in many industries. Unfortunately, their adoption in the field of medicine has been limited to equipment operations or part of specific algorithms. Yet they have tremendous potential to improve patient outcomes by democratizing knowledge and helping ensure that all patients receive evidence-based best practices and safe high-quality care. Checklist adoption has been slowed by a variety of factors, including provider resistance, delays in knowledge dissemination and integration, limited methodology to guide development and maintenance, and lack of effective technical strategies to make them available and easy to use. In this article, we explore some of the principles and possible strategies to further develop and encourage the implementation of checklists into medical practice. We describe different types of checklists using examples and explore the benefits they offer to improve care. We suggest methods to create checklists and offer suggestions for how we might apply them, using some examples from our own experience, and finally, offer some possible directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Checklist / standards*
  • Cognition
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards*
  • Humans
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care