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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?"
36 of 36 people found this review helpful
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?
14 of 14 people found this review helpful