The Checklist Manifesto – How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto is the title of a book by best-selling author and surgeon, Atul Gawande, MD.  Currently, this book is circulating through the leadership team.  We try to keep at least one book or journal article circulating to increase knowledge, invite discussion and provide a shared language for improvement and focus.  I would recommend this book and have a few extra copies if you would like to borrow one.  The following is from the inside cover:

“The modern world has given us stupendous know-how.  Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry – in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people – consistently, correctly, safely.  We train longer, specialize more, use ever advancing technologies, and we still fail.

“Now, acclaimed writer and surgeon Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better and finds a solution in the most humble of places: the lowly checklist.  He explains how checklists have made possible some of the most difficult things people do – from flying airplanes to building skyscrapers of mind-boggling sophistication.  And drawing on his own experience, he shows how applying this idea to the immensely various and complex world of surgery produced a ninety-second checklist that reduced deaths and complications by more than one-third in eight hospitals around the world – at virtually no cost and for almost any kind of operation.”

I had the honor of introducing Dr. Atul Gawande as a keynote speaker for the 2007 IHI National Forum.  In preparation for that three-minute introduction, I read every article I could find by him as well as his best-selling books, Better and Complications.  I also had a chance to have lunch with him prior to his presentation.  In thirty minutes, I was impressed with his energy, practical knowledge and humble approach to life.  I hope you will enjoy reading his book. 

When you read Checklist, think about ways we can – stabilize, standardize and improve – the work of the various teams who serve our patients and our organization.  Let me hear from you as we learn together.


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