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Atul Gawande signing books at SCHA's fourth annual Patient Safety Symposium




On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Atul Gawande when he joined the S.C. Hospital Association to formally kick off Safe Surgery 2015, a medical error-reduction to make surgery safer for all South Carolinians.

The initiative is designed to bring the Safe Surgery Checklist to every operating room in the United States, will start with 61 South Carolina hospitals.

For the past year I have read articles that he has written, watched him on the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and heard the podcast of him on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show. So, meeting him an honor. He has done some great work and now partnering with South Carolina hospitals to do more.

Why South Carolina?

  • 100% of S.C. hospitals that offer surgical services have committed to participate in the initiative
  • South Carolina has already shown great collaboration in other efforts including Mission: Lifeline
  • 80% of S.C. hospitals with surgical services implemented the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist in at least one operating room

Speaking for about an hour, Gawande shared how the checklist still catches things about once a week in his own operating room.

At least 500 of the 5,000 patients who die each year following surgeries in S.C. hospitals should be saved by 2013 with a savings of $28 million if his pre-surgery checklist is only slightly successful.

“This is not a transformation that will take one year,” he told the group of about 200 health care professionals. “Politicians may not like the pace of change, but it will be lasting change.”

I am looking forward to sharing the stories of the life changing work South Carolina hospitals and health care professionals are about to embark on. It will make surgery safer for everyone.