The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist

Alan F Merry and Bruce H Barraclough
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03660.x
Published online: 7 June 2010

A simple-to-use, inexpensive, low-risk tool that is not about ticking boxes but about keeping patients safe — it encourages surgeons, anaesthetists and perioperative nurses to work as a team, communicate and engage fully in safety processes

Following pilot implementation of the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist (the Checklist), a 30% reduction in surgery-related death and complications was achieved — a great result from a simple and affordable intervention!1 The Checklist2 was launched in Australia by the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, on 19 August 2009, and a week later in New Zealand by the Hon Tony Ryall MP, Minister of Health. Similar launches have occurred around the world.

  • 1 Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 2 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

Alan Merry and Bruce Barraclough received financial support from the WHO to travel to the secretariat meeting in London and working party meeting in Geneva to develop the Surgical Safety Checklist. Bruce Barraclough received travel assistance from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons to attend the launch of the Checklist in Canberra. Alan Merry received assistance from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists to attend the launch of the Checklist.

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  • 9. Quality Improvement Committee. Sentinel and serious events in New Zealand hospitals 2007–2008. Wellington: QIC, 2009.
  • 10. NSW Department of Health; Clinical Excellence Commission. Incident management in the NSW public health system 2007 July to December. Sydney: NSW Health and CEC, 2008.
  • 11. World Health Organization. Surgical safety checklist (Australia and New Zealand Edition). (accessed Apr 2010).


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