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Safer surgery checklist improves theatre nurse retention

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Adopting the World Health Organization’s safer surgery checklist could help improve nurse retention, a prominent US surgeon has told Nursing Times.

The checklist – a set of pre-operative checks developed in June 2008 by the WHO – aims to improve patient safety in operating theatres by focusing on better team working and communication.

The National Patient Safety Agency have adapted the checklist for NHS use, and set a deadline of the end of this month for all trusts in England and Wales to have started implementing it (news, p8, 17 February 2009).

Dr Atul Gawande, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said US hospitals that have piloted the WHO checklist have seen significant reductions in operating staff turnover.

“Hospitals in California that adopted this approach saw the rate of [theatre] nurse turnover drop from 23 per cent to 7 per cent. The teams reported they felt more like teams, morale improved significantly,” said Dr Gawande.

He added: “People became more willing to come to work because they felt they were in a better environment. We are already starting to see the same thing happening in hospitals in England that are using the checklist.”

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