In England and Wales, 129,419 incidents relating to surgical specialties were reported in 2007 with a range of degrees of harm, including 271 deaths.
In June 2008, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a Global Patient Safety Challenge, ‘Safe Surgery Saves Lives’, to reduce the number of surgical deaths across the world.
The goal of the initiative is to strengthen the commitment of clinical staff to address safety issues within the surgical setting. This includes improving anaesthetic safety practices, ensuring correct site surgery, avoiding surgical site infections and improving communication within the team. A core set of safety checks was identified in the form of a WHO Surgical Safety Checklist for use in any operating theatre environment. The checklist is a tool for the relevant clinical teams to improve the safety of surgery by reducing deaths and complications.
In the East Midlands we have set up a regional programme to ensure that all local organisations, who undertake surgical procedures have implemented the checklist, are monitoring compliance and using performance measures to evaluate and improve patient outcomes.
We are developing a clinical network to support full implementation by sharing best practice and lessons learned.