Ontario is enhancing patient safety by requiring all hospitals to use a surgical safety checklist, beginning in January.
The checklist will build on the government’s patient safety indicator initiative that was launched in May, 2008 and currently includes eight indicators.
One of those indictors is C. difficile, which hospitals began to report in September, 2008.
Since then, C. difficile rates have declined by 33 percent.
The surgical safety checklist covers the most common tasks and items that operating room teams carry out, and has been shown to reduce rates of death and complications among patients.
Hospitals will be required to report publicly on compliance with use of the checklist twice a year.
The first public reporting will take place July 31, 2010 and will cover the period April 1- June 30, 2010.
“Our government leads the country on the reporting of patient safety indicators,” said Health and Long-Term Care minister David Caplan.
“Adding the surgical checklist to our list of public indicators will further improve patient safety in Ontario’s hospitals,” he noted.
“The addition of the surgical checklist is a logical next step for the patient safety program,” agreed Dr. Michael Baker, executive lead, Patient Safety Program.
“Studies have shown that consistent use of a checklist reduces rates of death and complications associated with surgical care,” he added.
“Ontario’s hospitals are working hard to make patient care even safer,” said Tom Closson, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association.
“Mandatory surgical safety checklists will help health professionals and hospitals better understand and further improve the care they provide,” he stressed.
Ontario currently reports on eight patient safety indicators: C. difficile, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR), Central-Line Primary Blood Stream Infection (CLI), Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP), Surgical Site Infection Prevention, and Hand Hygiene Compliance.
In August, Ontario hospitals reported a C. difficile rate of 0.26 per 1,000 patient days—a 33 percent decline from the rate of 0.39 reported in August, 2008.