What Are the Advantages of Using Checklists During Veterinary Surgeries?

September 20, 2018

As veterinarians become busier, adding checklists to the standard protocol prevents mistakes that happen from multitasking, explains Gregg M. Griffenhagen, DVM, MS, DACVAA, anesthesiologist and clinical instructor at Colorado State University.

As veterinarians become busier, adding checklists to the standard protocol prevents mistakes that happen from multitasking during surgery, explains Gregg M. Griffenhagen, DVM, MS, DACVAA, anesthesiologist and clinical instructor at Colorado State University.

“Incorporating checklists into your typical veterinary practice, I feel like that's an important step forward for us. As we get busier and busier we see more and more patients, we do more and more procedures, it more behooves us to come back and make sure that we're taking care of the initial steps going forward. This is where checklists come in.

This has been shown in aviation, it's been shown in human medicine, and simple things like catheter placements. If in human medicine we can reduce the catheter-related blood borne infections from 40% to 2%, that's a huge number. I mean that's a huge number of lives saved. Anybody that's ever seen something like a sponge, or a four-by-four left in a patient knows that that wasn't done there maliciously, nobody did it on purpose, somebody was trying to do their job, but they were doing something else at the same time.

As we become busier and busier we need more and more to have some sort of cognitive aid. And these cognitive aids, like checklists, enable us to very quickly go through and verify simple things like I gave antibiotics, like I took all 10 lap sponges off the table, like I have 5 sharps, like this is the appropriate patient and I'm not doing the wrong procedure on the wrong patient. If you have 17 patients in a day that could be a thing. So, it's simple things that we do, we know they work, now it's just time for us to start moving forward with actually incorporating them into veterinary practice. Something that's been a little bit difficult over the years, but I think we'll get there.”