On Simple Checklists

This week’s learning draws inspiration from ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande-


I had promised more Checklist learnings from the fascinating piece of work by Atul Gawande. So, here is another..

In 2001, Peter Pronovost, a critical care specialist at John Hopkins Hospital, became frustrated about the incidence of infections that arose after injections in intensive care. He came up with this simple checklist of the steps which had to be taken to avoid infections:

Many of our first reactions to this would probably be smiling at how basic this list is. Pronovost followed it up by authorizing nurses to stop doctors from injecting the patient if they skipped a point on the checklist.

The impact over 15 months?

8 Deaths prevented.
43 infections avoided.
$2 million saved.

“We don’t like checklists. They can be painstaking. They’re not much fun. But I don’t think the issue here is mere laziness. There’s something deeper, more visceral going on when people walk away not only from saving lives but from making money. It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment, It runs counter to deeply held beliefs about how the truly great among us — those we aspire to be — handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists. Maybe our idea of heroism needs updating.” — Atul Gawande

A close friend and I are working on an app on iPhone/Android platforms for easy checklist creation. Will keep you updated!

Until then, hope you have fun making simple checklists at work this week!

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