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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Implementation of a mandatory checklist of protocols and objectives improves compliance with a wide range of evidence-based intensive care unit practices.

Byrnes MC, Schuerer DJE, Schallom ME, et al. Critical care medicine. 2009;37:2775-81.

Adoption of checklists to standardize and mitigate error-prone processes was popularized in patient safety through a compelling 2007 New Yorker article. The concept was further supported by its resounding success in preventing central-line–associated bloodstream infections. Similar efforts have emerged in surgical settings in which adoption of a specific checklist reduced morbidity and mortality. This study implemented a 14-point checklist in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting to actively engage providers in considering best practices during daily rounds and then evaluated whether the checklist affected practice patterns. While the study did not measure clinical patient outcomes, investigators did demonstrate significant improvements in deep vein thrombosis and stress ulcer prophylaxis, oral care for ventilated patients, electrolyte repletion, initiation of physical therapy, and documentation of restraint orders. The study also demonstrated a two-fold increase in transferring patients out of the ICU on telemetry compared with baseline practice. The authors advocate for use of this cost-effective method to promote best practices in ICU settings.