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CPSI Share                                              
3/6/2016 5:00 PM

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has taken compliance with the Safe Surgery Checklist from 50 to better than 90 per cent in just two years! Stacy Kozak, Manager with the AHS Surgery Strategic Clinical Network (SSCN) will walk you through the steps and provide insight on the province-wide approach taken during a webinar on Friday, April 8, 2016. Hosted by the Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Working Group, the webinar will show how communication and teamwork translate into safer surgical care.

After polling surgical teams and conducting focus groups regarding the use of the Safe Surgery Checklist over the past year, the SSI Working Group found that high functioning teams produce better results when engaged in the process.

"The Safe Surgery Checklist is an important patient safety tool to ensure that key care information is communicated through the patient's surgical journey," says Dr. Giuseppe Papia, lead of the Safe Surgery Checklist Working Group. "During the April webinar, we will share what we learned from surgical teams during the consultation process. We are excited to profile how Alberta Health Services is taking the time to record good catches from the checklist. You will not find valuable information such as this from a database."

"Most often, the documentation of surgical checklist completion is filled out after the fact," says Stacy Kozak. "It becomes an exercise of checking off yes or no in the appropriate boxes, rather than critically looking at the components and determining what has actually been done. AHS measures use of the checklist in two ways, using a chart audit and an observational audit. Observational audits give us a better view of the true state of affairs."

In Alberta, there are approximately 59 surgical sites using the Safe Surgery Checklist. Each site is given a number of observational audits they must complete each quarter. Sites are encouraged to spread the audits across different types of surgical cases and at different times of the day and week. Smaller sites will do a minimum of 30 audits, while larger sites will complete 50 to 100 audits each quarter. AHS recently developed an online training module for auditors to help them feel confident in fulfilling that role and to ensure consistent standards are being applied to audits across the province.

For an observational audit, the sample of cases undergoes a complete review using a 10-question audit form. One of the questions asks: "as a result of using the checklist, was an error preventable?  If so, provide detail on what happened." During the upcoming webinar Stacy will share more about the good catch list that has been compiled from these observational audits and how that information is communicated to other surgical teams.

A patient perspective will also be profiled during the webinar. Find out first-hand how one patient says the Safe Surgery Checklist improved his surgical experience.

During the implementation of the checklist, the Surgery Strategic Clinical Network partnered with "PaCER" - a group of patient-trained researchers to do a study exploring how patients perceive the Safe Surgery Checklist. PaCER found that use of the checklist sometimes made patients more nervous when their surgical team started asking each other questions.

The patients did not understand that the Checklist is a safety tool and questions were being asked intentionally. A patient video and posters have been developed, and patient handout translated into several languages to help patients understand why the checklist is important part of their surgery.

"Patients need to understand why we do the checklist," says Stacy Kozak. "It is to make things better for the patient. The culture in the room changes when patients become part of the team and understand what is happening around them."

To learn more, join the Safe Surgery Checklist Webinar on April 8, 2016.  Click here for more details.