Manage risk in any industry using one simple tool: a checklist

January 16, 2009

Great story in the Globe and Mail yesterday about how a simple checklist could save the entire Canadian health care industry billions of dollars in medical errors. While we’re pleased to see more people paying attention to this concept, these findings aren’t new. A similar study was done in the U.S. to assess and triage cardiac patients in the ER. This study found that using a checklist significantly reduced the number of patients who were improperly diagnosed, and thus increased the likelihood that those who truly were having a heart attack got treatment faster.

At The Tatham Group, we believe that using checklists to follow a process is paramount – and this concept is built directly into our method. In fact, our work with The Credit Valley Hospital points to the benefits of applying a systematic method to ambulatory care. However, there are two small details that seem to have been overlooked. The first, is that a checklist will only be successful if it’s based on a good process. What we mean by this, is that if the process itself is broken – no checklist will make things any better. And secondly, unless people are being measured by how well they can follow this checklist, it will fall by the wayside. But a well-designed process and checklist for following it, with measurable goals is the best way for hospitals to manage the risk. Or any industry for that matter.

  • Easter Bunny

    It will be interesting to see how long the checklists last. One thing that comes to mind is that if you make a checklist for a broken process, that will not necessarily reduce errors as much as one may think (;

  • They are using LeanPad to identify it and ProcessPad to design it – both from Process Master