■ Physician-team:

Leveraging the power of collaboration to foster safe care

Reducing risks in surgery: Using a checklist

Published: August 2021

Type of activity: Group activity

Activity summary

This activity encourages learners to interact with clinicians who use checklists as part of their routine practice. The facilitation questions and suggestions to faculty are focused on helping learners to understand the utility of checklists and to consider how and when they are best used.

Activity description

Ask learners to form into groups of 3 or 4 and make arrangements to interview a member of a surgical team (e.g. operating room nurse, surgical resident, staff surgeon, obstetrician, anesthesiologist) that uses a surgical or anaesthetic checklist.

When interviewing the clinician, learners should ensure they cover the following content:

  • how the checklist is used
  • the benefits of the checklist to patient safety
  • challenges of using or implementing checklists
  • any suggested improvements to the checklist itself, or to its use

Leaners should be prepared to present their findings to the class, either formally (e.g. using a PowerPoint presentation) or informally. Faculty may also decide to have learners submit a written assignment as individuals or in groups.

Examples of questions that may be used to debrief the learners as a large group, once all presentations have occurred, include:

  • Discuss any variability in clinicians' assessments of checklists.
  • Did they differ by profession, specialty, or institution? Discuss.
  • Are there clinical situations in which checklists are not currently used, but may benefit from the introduction of a checklist? Discuss.
  • Are there clinical situations that do not require checklists? Discuss.
  • Re-visit the challenges to implementing checklists. What are some strategies for dealing with these challenges?

Suggestions to faculty

It is not always possible or feasible for learners to interview a clinician. An alternative could be to have learners form small groups to discuss the content areas themselves and return as a large group to debrief using the trigger questions.

Additional resources

CanMEDS: Medical Expert, Collaborator, Professional

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this learning material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, nor to constitute a "standard of care" for Canadian healthcare professionals. The use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the CMPA's Terms of Use.