Rationale: Checklists may reduce errors of omission for critically ill patients.
Objectives: To determine whether prompting to use a checklist improves process of care and clinical outcomes.
Methods: We conducted a cohort study in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) of a tertiary care university hospital. Patients admitted to either of two independent MICU teams were included. Intervention team physicians were prompted to address six parameters from a daily rounding checklist if overlooked during morning work rounds. The second team (control) used the identical checklist without prompting.
Measurements and main results: One hundred and forty prompted group patients were compared with 125 control and 1,283 preintervention patients. Compared with control, prompting increased median ventilator-free duration, decreased empirical antibiotic and central venous catheter duration, and increased rates of deep vein thrombosis and stress ulcer prophylaxis. Prompted group patients had lower risk-adjusted ICU mortality compared with the control group (odds ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.13-0.96; P = 0.041) and lower hospital mortality compared with the control group (10.0 vs. 20.8%; P = 0.014), which remained significant after risk adjustment (odds ratio, 0.34; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.76; P = 0.008). Observed-to-predicted ICU length of stay was lower in the prompted group compared with control (0.59 vs. 0.87; P = 0.02). Checklist availability alone did not improve mortality or length of stay compared with preintervention patients.
Conclusions: In this single-site, preliminary study, checklist-based prompting improved multiple processes of care, and may have improved mortality and length of stay, compared with a stand-alone checklist. The manner in which checklists are implemented is of great consequence in the care of critically ill patients.