If you have been checking the health news, you know that checklists are a hot topic.
Now a new study from Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that a simple checklist-based childbirth safety program dramatically improved adherence to essential childbirth care practices at a pilot hospital in south India.
Of 29 practices measured, 28 were improved after adoption of the checklist and overall adherence to essential practices was 150% better after the checklist was introduced.
“This is a significant step forward because it provides hope that use of this simple, low-cost tool can help birth attendants better adhere to universally accepted standards in childbirth care,” said senior author Atul Gawande, professor in health policy and management at HSPH, lead advisor for WHO Patient Safety’s childbirth and surgery safety programs, and a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.
“The results of this study are the first evidence to suggest that the success we’ve seen with checklists in other health disciplines, for example in surgery, might also be applied to prevent avoidable childbirth-related deaths in low-income countries,” said Itziar Larizgoitia, coordinator in the Patient Safety Programme for WHO.
This study measured the way health workers care for women and newborns during childbirth, but was too small a study to measure the impact on complications or reducing deaths. The researchers are now conducting a large-scale trial in more than 100 hospitals in north India to determine if the checklist program can save the lives of women and newborns.
“Improving Quality of Care for Maternal and Newborn Health: Prospective Pilot Study of the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist Program,” Jonathan M. Spector, Priya Agrawal, Bhala Kodkany, Stuart Lipsitz, Angela Lashoher, Gerald Dziekan, Rajiv Bahl, Mario Merialdi, Matthews Mathai, Claire Lemer, Atul A. Gawande, PLoS One, online May 16, 2012, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.