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We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies - neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple 90-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.
In riveting stories, Gawande takes us from Austria, where an emergency checklist saved a drowning victim who had spent half an hour underwater, to Michigan, where a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from disaster response to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds.
An intellectual adventure in which lives are lost and saved and one simple idea makes a tremendous difference, The Checklist Manifesto is essential for anyone working to get things right.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Tad Davis on 01-11-10
I work in IT, and up to now I've managed without checklists. Not any more. As soon as I finished listening to this audiobook, I created six or seven checklists and will begin "field testing" them this week. Gawande's stories are gripping. Many of his examples come from surgery or aviation -- situations where lives are at stake -- and he effectively makes the point that even when disaster looms, a disciplined adherence to the checklist can minimize the effects.
He caps off the book with a harrowing story of a mistake he made as a surgeon: a laparoscopic procedure to remove an adrenal gland went awry, leading to a massive bleed-out. Except that the patient didn't bleed out completely, because the pre-op checklist had caught the fact that the required units of blood weren't on hand, and the situation was rectified before the knife went down.
One of the advantages of the checklist, he says, is its ability to transform a disparate group of people into a coordinated team. This is nowhere more apparent than in his detailed account of the crew's actions during the famous plane-landing-in-the-Hudson incident. The press wanted to play up the heroism of the captain, but the captain himself insisted, over and over again, that it was a group effort, and that the crew's ability to stick to the protocol under duress is the real story.
Next time I go in for surgery myself, the last thing I'm going to ask before the anesthesia kicks in is: "Do you guys have a checklist?"
37 of 37 people found this review helpful
By RMorgan on 04-06-10
Or - Common Sense is Just Not Sexy
Even the reviews below get at the problem. Despite energetic narration that stirs up the occasionally lengthy prose, you already think you know all you need to know about checklists. Well, maybe not?
Gawande begs you to consider his new ideas, insights about testing and tailoring, and then to give the concept a try in your own workplace.
I used to ask students, do you want to fly on a plane where they hadn't gone through the checklist? My new question - wouldn't you like YOUR doctor to be as passionate as Gawande?
15 of 15 people found this review helpful