Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Checklist Manifesto

I just finished the bestselling book The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. I bought it largely because I enjoyed his other books: Better - A Surgeon's Notes on Performance and Complications - A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. Here's the author's web site for the book.

I enjoyed the book. I didn't need to be converted, since I'm a fan of checklists and have used them even before I got my pilots license many years ago. He describes his discussions with the man at Boeing who's responsible for developing the checklists that Boeing distributes to all their aircraft operators. That was fascinating, as was his description of the ego-ridden surgical theaters around the world and their dislike of checklists or anything else that might threaten the status quo.

Much of the book is about his efforts to develop a surgical checklist for the WHO for use in hospitals around the world, but primarily in impoverished settings. He was shocked at the success it appeared to have after they analyzed the data his team collected. I was surprised at his surprise. One of the biggest sources of problems in all industries is human error. Any rigor in reducing those mistakes will obviously result in performance improvements.

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