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Hospitals Begin Using Surgical Checklist

Archived News Release

Hospitals Begin Using Surgical Checklist

Patient Safety To Be Further Enhanced

Ministry of Health

Ontario is enhancing patient safety by requiring all hospitals to use a surgical safety checklist, beginning today.

The surgical safety checklist - which covers the most common tasks and items that operating room teams carry out - has been shown to reduce rates of deaths and complications among patients. Some of the items included are the review of test results, administration of antibiotics and post-surgery recovery plans.

Hospitals must officially begin using the surgical checklist today while also collecting compliance data. They will then be required to report publicly twice a year on complying with the use of the checklist. The first public reporting will take place July 31, 2010 and will cover the period from April 1 to June 30.

The surgical safety checklist builds on the government's patient safety indicator initiative that was launched in 2008 and currently includes eight indicators such as hand hygiene compliance and C. difficile rates. C. difficile rates which hospitals began to report publicly in September 2008, have declined by more than 20 per cent.

Quick Facts

  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has joined with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) to develop tools, resources and education sessions to support the implementation of the surgical safety checklist.
  • In February 2010, Ontario hospitals reported a C. difficile rate of 0.31 per 1,000 patients' days - a more than 20 per cent decline from the rate of 0.39 reported in August 2008.

Additional Resources


“Patients are our highest priority. Having a surgical checklist in all Ontario hospitals will further improve the safety of patients.”

Deb Matthews

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“A surgical safety checklist supports quality patient care by emphasizing good preparation and teamwork in the operating room. Studies have clearly shown that the use of a checklist reduces rates of death and complications.”

Dr. Michael Baker

Executive Lead, Patient Safety Program

“Ontario's hospitals enthusiastically support the introduction of surgical safety checklists in hospitals, and the OHA was proud to partner with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in holding regional training sessions. A surgical safety checklist is more than just a piece of paper - it's an evidence-based tool that improves patient safety by facilitating and improving communication between members of a surgical team.”

Tom Closson

President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association

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