Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from surgeries gone wrong. While surgeries are never truly “routine” and unexpected things do happen, some errors are very preventable.
A surgeon by profession, Atul Gawande was part of the team assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) to look at the prevalence of surgery errors. They heard accounts from other surgeons – those that operated in high-tech hospitals of the developed countries and others from the developing countries that lacked adequate resources, training, personnel, and so on.
What they found was that errors happened everywhere, and no amount of technology or pharmaceuticals could prevent them. In fact, errors happened most often due to human error, due to routine tasks that were forgotten while focusing on the more complicated problems at hand. This conclusion led to the development of a simple checklist that was then tested at participating hospitals around the world. The results were quite surprising, even to Gawande.
The Checklist Manifesto is Gawande’s account of the development of the surgical checklist, but it’s also so much more. He discusses and compares checklists used by a variety of professionals, from pilots who heavily rely on checklists for safety, to financiers who use checklists to make calculated investment decisions. More importantly, Gawande makes a convincing argument in favor of checklists. Our world is complicated and our skills are getting more and more specialized, causing seemingly unimportant and routine tasks to fall through the cracks. That is where checklists come in.
The Checklist Manifesto has also been a true inspiration, and I have since made checklists for the routine tasks in my life: packing for travel, making professional Power Point presentations, preparing for holidays, etc. Having well thought lists to guide me through these common situations definitely makes my life less stressful – I no longer worry about forgetting to pack a cell phone charger or to buy a gift for a distant aunt!
This book was provided free of any obligation by Picador. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.