Webinar this Week on Customizing Operating Room Emergency Checklists

Ariadne Labs, Stanford University and other leaders in anesthesia patient safety launched the Emergency Manuals Implementation Collaborative (EMIC) in 2011 to circulate emergency checklists for hospitals, health care associations and other medical experts. This week, EMIC is hosting its first webinar series, starting with “Customization and Modification of the Operating Room Emergency Checklist” on June 7 at 2 pm, to provide insight on how to customize and implement these checklists. You can access the webinar here.

An emergency in the operating room (OR) may not happen often, but when it does, it is easy to forget critical tasks and best practices. The OR Crisis Checklists are designed for these exact moments: when an unpredictable and dangerous event occurs, they provide step-by-step procedures and key protocol reminders. Industries like aviation use similar cognitive aids, and research shows that using them consistently and effectively improves results.

Even though a tool like this can clearly provide much-needed support, an implementation plan is just as important. The checklists are only as effective as how they are used, which require buy-in from both clinical and organizational leaders. The most effective implementation also varies according to the environment. From the location of the checklists to the member of the surgical team who reads them, the training details will depend on the individual medical setting. Ariadne Labs and EMIC have worked to fill in the gaps between awareness and implementation with the necessary planning and support, as well as corresponding research that shows what has been effective.

“Successful adoption of the crisis checklists requires that there be local “ownership” of tools that are relevant to the specific facility. Customizing the checklists is an important component of achieving both these goals,” says Dr. Alex Hannenberg, anesthesiologist, leader of the webinar and faculty member in the Safe Surgery program at Ariadne Labs.

The checklists themselves are free, and their corresponding implementation toolkit gives some insight on how to establish them successfully. Ariadne Labs and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health also offer in-person trainings to bridge these gaps. What makes the webinar series different is its ease of access: it provides a user-friendly format for professionals to train and learn even if they cannot attend in person.

The webinar series will be free and ongoing, and sessions will be recorded so that participants can catch up in their own time. Those who have experience with the tool are encouraged to participate, as well as those who are new to the checklists and interested in learning more. The course will cover basics as well as technical details.

Dr. Sara Goldhaber-Fiebert, Clinical Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, is co-leader of the webinar, and will offer insight into checklist implementation case studies. One of the class’s focal points will be what makes a successful implementation, particularly breaking down barriers that stand in the way of its use.

“Among the most frequently cited objections to implementing crisis checklists are the belief that they’re unnecessary and time-consuming in an emergency situation,” says Hannenberg. “When clinicians have a chance to try them out in an emergency drill—or see others do so—they realize clearly that their management of the simulated emergency is improved and that checklists are explicitly designed to be rapid reference tools, whether in the cockpit or the operating room.”

The series also integrates with the newly created Ariadne Labs online checklist community, a resource for participants to learn more and achieve insight from those who have implemented the tool successfully. EMIC draws from its long experience helping health care professionals to provide a forum for frequently asked questions and implementation issues. The community will also give members a chance to catch up on the more recent research, download checklist updates and connect with an expert if need be.

Hannenberg explains that the community will be a useful tool on its own. “An effective implementation is a complex process,” he says. “Checklist champions encounter some unique problems and some very common problems. Our community of practice is meant to share experiences and minimize reinvention of the wheel—many have taken on this work successfully and are eager to propel others to success through sharing.”