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American College of Surgeons and Safe Surgery 2015 Leaders Discuss Outcomes, Vision for South Carolina Surgical Safety Checklist Initiative

CHICAGO, April 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, Apr. 1, the American College of Surgeons (ACS), in partnership with Safe Surgery 2015 and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), hosted the ACS Surgical Health Care Quality Forum South Carolina, bringing together surgeons and other health care leaders to discuss the successes and challenges of implementing the surgical checklist in 100 percent of operating rooms in the state.

Forum participants emphasized the importance of customizing the World Health Organization's (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist to fit each hospital's culture and workflow as an essential step to improving health care quality and patient safety. Although results of the South Carolina Surgical Safety Checklist implementation are still under evaluation, the Safe Surgery 2015 leadership estimates that if the checklist is used for every patient undergoing surgery in the state of South Carolina it could save at least 500 lives per year, prevent 2,000 complications and save an estimated $28 million in health care costs.

Keynote speaker and author Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, FACS, executive director, Safe Surgery 2015, discussed the development of the WHO Checklist and the Safe Surgery 2015 initiative's unique approach to checklist implementation in the state of South Carolina. Dr. Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and also serves as director, Ariadne Labs; professor of surgery, Harvard Medical School; and professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health.

"Our efforts in South Carolina are unprecedented," said Dr. Gawande. "We have been working in partnership with the South Carolina Hospital Association and its members to achieve the underlying culture change that is needed to improve communication and teamwork in the operating room through the use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. After three and a half years our work in South Carolina is still not done. While the hospitals in South Carolina have made tremendous strides to put the checklist into place, we believe that every hospital can continue to enhance their use of the checklist. Putting the checklist into use in a way that improves communication, teamwork, and ultimately patient safety takes time."

"A core mission of the ACS's Inspiring Quality initiative is to drive dialogue and share knowledge and best practices from the front lines," said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Executive Director of ACS. "The Safe Surgery 2015 program and the efforts in South Carolina are perfect examples of how we can use existing tools and resources to effectively advance patient care and benefit the entire health care system."

The program also highlighted how surgeons play a key role in driving meaningful implementation of the checklist among the entire surgical team by fostering communication and building engagement in the operating room.

"The use of this checklist and the team collaboration surrounding its implementation inside the OR is a great example of how a focus on possible pitfalls or roadblocks can prevent problems and lead to a safer environment," said forum host Chad Rubin, MD, FACS, staff surgeon, Providence Hospitals and ACS Governor-at-Large for the state of South Carolina. "It isn't that 'the checklist prevented this many infections,' it is more the checklist led to better team communication, less confusion in the OR, and ultimately greater patient safety. It will be exciting to see how our efforts in South Carolina can serve as a model for other states to really make a difference for patient care and change the face of surgery across the nation."

The Safe Surgery 2015 initiative was launched in 2011 to measurably reduce surgical infections, major complications and death through effective population-wide implementation of a modified version of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. A 2009 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found hospitals that implemented the WHO checklist reduced medical error by at least 30 percent.[1] South Carolina was chosen to lead this effort based on the South Carolina Hospital Association's 2009 "Operation: Safe Surgery" initiative, in which 80 percent of the state's hospitals with surgical services had implemented the WHO checklist in at least one operating room.

Since launching its Inspiring Quality initiative in 2011, ACS has hosted 18 community forums with health care leaders across the nation in an effort to foster discussions about best practices and surgical quality programs that advance patient care and measurably improve outcomes.

Full video of the South Carolina forum will be available at and on the College's YouTube channel in the coming days.

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit (also on Facebook and Twitter).

About Safe Surgery 2015
Safe Surgery 2015, led by the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) and Ariadne Labs, serves as the pilot state for the program. Its goals are to reduce surgical infections, major complications and death through effective population-wide implementation of the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist Program.

About the South Carolina Hospital Association
Founded in 1921, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state's hospitals and healthcare systems. Based in Columbia, SCHA works with its members to improve access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all South Carolinians. The state's hospitals and healthcare systems employ more than 70,000 persons statewide.

[1] Haynes et al. A Surgical Safety Checklist to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in a Global Population. New England Journal of Medicine. 2009 Jan. 29; 360(5):491-9.

SOURCE American College of Surgeons

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