Process improvement in cardiac surgery: development and implementation of a reoperation for bleeding checklist

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2013 Nov;146(5):1028-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2013.05.043. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Objective: High-performing health care organizations differentiate themselves by focusing on continuous process improvement initiatives aimed at enhancing patient outcomes. Reoperation for bleeding is an event associated with considerable morbidity risk. Hence, our primary objective was to develop and implement a formal operative checklist to reduce technical reasons for postoperative bleeding.

Methods: From January 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, 5812 cardiac surgical procedures were performed at Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH). A multidisciplinary team developed a simple, easy-to-perform hemostasis checklist based on the most common sites of bleeding. An extensive educational in-service was performed before limited, then universal, checklist implementation. Geometric charts were used to track the number of cases between consecutive reoperations for bleeding. We compared these before (phase 0) and after the first limited implementation phase (phase 1) and the universal implementation phase (phase 2) of the checklist.

Results: The average number of cases between consecutive reoperations for bleeding increased from 32 in phase 0 to 53 in both phase 1 (P = .002) and phase 2 (P = .01).

Conclusions: A substantial reduction in reoperation for bleeding cases followed implementation of a formalized hemostasis checklist. Our findings underscore the important influence of memory aids that focus attention on surgical techniques to improve patient outcomes in a complex, operative work environment.

Keywords: 18; 2; CABG; WHO; World Health Organization; coronary artery bypass grafting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Checklist*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hemostatic Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Ohio
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Reoperation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Workflow