Tailor checklists to clinical teams

The problems of replicating the effects of patient-safety checklist trials in routine practice could be mitigated by adapting checklists for individual hospital environments and teams (see Nature 523, 516–518; 2015). An F-16 fighter aircraft would not rely on a checklist devised for flying a jumbo jet.

For instance, much of the World Health Organization's surgical safety checklist is irrelevant to a cardiac catheterization procedure. There is no general anaesthetic or expected blood loss, for example, but monitoring kidney function is crucial. We therefore designed a bespoke safety checklist to brief the cardiac clinical team on the planned procedure and on any potential problems. Endorsed by the British Cardiovascular Society (, the checklist is regularly modified in response to end-user evaluation.

Smart electronic checklists will further improve safety by highlighting patient-specific risks and acting as a guide in emergencies and for auditing near-misses.

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Correspondence to Thomas J. Cahill.

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Cahill, T., Stables, R. Tailor checklists to clinical teams. Nature 525, 321 (2015).

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