Checklists: A Critical Patient Safety
Tool & Guide
We all have experienced a situation where information has been misplaced because we forgot to write something down, or forgot to do something that we intended to do because we simply forgot. In professional health care practice and the delivery of patient care, this is no longer acceptable. Fortunately, using checklists can eliminate the need to rely on our memory to complete tasks.
Checklists are a key component of a successful operation, no matter what your service line or area. Utilizing checklists throughout an organization leads to improved quality and safety. In addition, it creates a happier staff and more productive employees. Checklists can improve your quality of life because of reduced stress and improved organization.
A checklist is a list of items or tasks that you “check off” as you complete each item/task on the list. Checklists are everywhere and are an integral part of most activities - both personal and professional. In our own daily lives, we make checklists for organizing ("To-Do Lists"), planning, prioritizing, shopping, and so forth. Our professional life is no different; checklists are essential to an effective, efficient, and profitable operation.
Checklists should be used to plan, operate, and manage your daily activities because checklists provide an effective means to organize, prioritize, direct, control and measure activity. Simply put, without checklists we are forced to rely on our memory.
Some of the primary functional uses of checklists include:
- Planning: The planning checklist is a list of items to be accomplished and prioritized according to importance. It is a list of action steps needed to be taken in order to meet a particular goal or achieve an outcome. Planning checklists may divide into sub-lists.
- Operating: "How to" lists are the mainstay of an efficient and effective operation. These checklists provide staff or team members with the proper steps, in the correct sequence, to finish a particular task, such as completing a form. The checklist also ensures that mistakes are minimized and time is well spent. A checklist makes sure that necessary steps are accomplished in the correct order.
Checklists can be organized in any number of ways and are chosen to meet the specific needs of the task at hand, serve to minimize time and cost, maximize profit, ensure customer satisfaction, and provide meaningful metrics. Some of the more popular ways to organize a checklist are discussed below:
- Ordered List: This type of checklist is a list of tasks needed to be accomplished in a particular order. Usually the checklist is numbered, starting at the first task or step, and proceeding to the last task or step, in increasing numerical order. The ordered list ensures correct and complete processing.
- Itemized List:This is a list of items that need to be addressed, usually with some meaningful information alongside, and is used as a guide or reference. The purpose of an itemized list is to provide a complete accounting or reporting of the information present.
- Sub-List: A sub-list is a branch or subset of an ordered list. Sub-lists can exist for almost any of the above types of lists.
- Prioritized List: A prioritized list is any of the above lists placed into an order based on some priority scheme. This type of list helps us to use our time effectively, to focus our energy where it's most needed, and to address the important items or tasks first.
- General List: This is any of the above lists with a space for a check mark, initials, or additional information. As tasks or items are addressed, the line is checked or initialed as being done. The use of a checklist ensures accuracy, accountability, completeness, and efficiency.
Contact Safer Healthcare
We welcome your questions and inquiries about our programs, products and services. Contact Safer Healthcare's team of CRM experts to learn how we can help your organization increase levels of patient safety and improve the quality of safe and reliable care while maximizing profitability.
- Phone: 1-303-298-8083
- Toll-free (US Only) 1-866-398-8083
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org