Recommendations for surgical safety checklist use in Canadian children’s hospitals

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There is ample evidence that avoidable harm occurs in patients, including children, who undergo surgical procedures. Among a number of harm mitigation strategies, the use of surgical safety checklists (SSC) is now a required organizational practice for accreditation in all North American hospitals. Although much has been written about the effects of SSC on outcomes of adult surgical patients, there is a paucity of literature on the use and role of the SSC as an enabler of safe surgery for children.


The Pediatric Surgical Chiefs of Canada (PSCC) advocates on behalf of all Canadian children undergoing surgical procedures. We undertook a survey of the use of SSC in Canadian children’s hospitals to understand the variability of implementation of the SSC and understand its role as both a measure and driver of patient safety and to make specific recommendations (based on survey results and evidence) for standardized use of the SSC in Canadian children’s hospitals.


Survey responses were received from all 15 children’s hospitals and demonstrated significant variability in how the checklist is executed, how compliance is measured and reported, and whether or not use of the checklist resulted in specific instances of error prevention over a 12-month observation period. There was near unanimous agreement that use of the SSC contributed positively to the safety culture of the operating room.


Based on the survey results, the PSCC have made 5 recommendations regarding the use of the SSC in Canadian children’s hospitals.

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