Sign In
CPSI Share                                                    
1/30/2018 5:00 PM

A Surgical Safety Checklist plays an important role in reducing the likelihood of complications following surgery and is known to improve surgical outcomes. Implementing a Surgical Safety Checklist helps to initiate, guide and formalize communication among the team conducting a surgical procedure; and ensures that critical safety steps are integrated into the surgical workflow. The three phases of the checklist include: Briefing (before the induction of anesthesia); Time-Out (before skin incision) and Debriefing (before the patient leaves the operating room).

"Although healthcare professionals make every reasonable effort to provide safe care to their patients, harmful surgical incidents, including wrong site surgeries and retained surgical items continue to occur in operating rooms across the country," says Dr. Giuseppe Papia, Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon and Critical Care Medicine specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  "It is with standardized protocols like the Surgical Safety Checklist that can improve communication and collaboration across the surgical team and prevent patient safety incidents. Patient harm is reduced by fostering highly reliable surgical teams which work more effectively together to produce better patient outcomes. The Surgical Safety Checklist is an essential perioperative communications tool for surgical teams across Canada."

A Joint Position Statement outlining the advocacy and support for use of a Surgical Safety Checklist has been adopted by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, Alberta Health Services (AHS), Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society (CAS), and the Operating Room Nurses' Association of Canada (ORNAC). The purpose of the statement is to convey the commitment of these organizations to prioritize perioperative patient safety by creating an environment conducive to the effective adoption and use of a Surgical Safety Checklist. It is a call to action that supports a cultural shift from the front lines - to leadership - to patients and advocates for the widespread use of Surgical Safety Checklist.

Support for the Joint Position Statement is widespread. A number of surgical groups have endorsed the Joint Position Statement, including: the Canadian Orthopaedic Association; Canadian Neurosurgical Society; Canadian Society of Cardiac Surgeons; Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery; Canadian Society of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery; Canadian Association of General Surgeons; Canadian Association of Paediatric Surgeons; Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons, ant the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.  Supporters promoting the statement include the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and Canadian Thoracic Society. 

The Joint Position Statement also acknowledges "never events" – serious patient safety incidents that should not occur if healthcare systems support and empower providers in their use of available preventative measures. While "never events" damage patients' confidence in the healthcare system, the Surgical Safety Checklist can facilitate communication amongst teams and help to avoid "never events."

A Safer Surgery Checklist was first developed by the World Health Organization in 2008. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute then adapted the checklist to include a Canadian context and the Surgical Safety Checklist was introduced in May 2009. For almost a decade, the Surgical Safety Checklist has been used by surgical teams across the country to support excellent patient care through good communication and teamwork.

To learn more about the Surgical Safety Checklist and the Joint Position Statement advocating for and supporting the use of a Surgical Safety Checklist, visit