Decreasing intraoperative delays with meaningful use of the surgical safety checklist

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Purposeful completion (fidelity) more than simple adherence to items in the surgical safety checklist may improve operating room efficiency and patient safety. The purpose of this study was to evaluate intraoperative delays and correlate them with adherence and fidelity to the preincision surgical safety checklist.


Trained observers evaluated surgical safety checklist compliance during 3 observation periods from 2014–2016. Degree of adherence, checkpoint verbalization, fidelity, and meaningful completion were assessed. Delays were categorized as missing or malfunctioning equipment, staff error, and medication issues. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, logistic regression, χ2 and Student t test were used to analyze results.


Of the 591 cases observed, 19% (n = 110) had at least one documented, intraoperative delay. The majority of delays were related to missing (50%) or malfunctioning (30%) equipment. Compared with cases without delays, cases with delays did not have a different mean degree of adherence (96.3 ± 7.6% vs 95.6 ± 5.8%, P = .36). Degree of fidelity was different between cases with and without delays (mean fidelity 77.1 ± 14.9% vs 80.5 ± 7.14.2%, P = .03).


The preincision SSC is a communication tool offering an opportunity to discuss potential concerns and anticipated intraoperative needs. Fidelity rather than adherence to the surgical safety checklist seems to diminish intraoperative delays.

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