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MGMA: Patient Safety Checklists Cut Costs at Physician Practices

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, October 26, 2011

A nurse would follow the steps from memory, but stop at a certain point to review the checklist to confirm that everything that needs to happen is happening. Read-do is a typical checklist. The order the items are completed may not matter. What matters is that they are completed.

2.Keep it short, precise, practical

Wertz suggests between five and nine easy-to-remember items. "Checklists should only include the most critical and important steps in a complex process and assign responsibility for those steps. The steps need to be clearly written and in simple language." So, a checklist for an office emergency would state: Office manager calls 911 not just "call emergency personnel."

3.Focus on "killer items"

Medication and dosages immediately come to mind here, but Wertz said this can also mean something as basic as making sure the physician or the physician assistant has the correct patient records in the examining room. "Checklists can help avoid situations that could not only harm a patient but that could embarrass a doctor.

If a physician starts going through the wrong patient records that could make a patient question the physician's competence." Wertz said a checklist that makes sure every patient is identified as they move through the office will help.

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1 comments on "MGMA: Patient Safety Checklists Cut Costs at Physician Practices"

Emilie J DiChristina MBA CPHQ (10/28/2011 at 1:19 PM)
This was a great article and I hope that both physicians and practice managers take the few minutes necessary to read it. Last week I had the opportunity to address the subject of Quality and meeting quality indicators to a large group of physicians, most from relatively small practices. One of my major points was that reliance on technology is dominating the office lately, and yet for want of checklists, process flow charts, and other basic steps, the technology is often wasted money and wasted effort for all parties. As I read your article I thought o fthe very basic act of LOOKING AT THE PATIENT when registering him or her for the visit. How often are staff members so engrossed in updating a new PM or EMR, getting all the fields completed just right that they forget to look up, smile and observe. Perhaps a checklist that starts with Look up, smile and observe the patient's overall condition would increase customer satisfaction, make the staff remember that there is a person involved AND perhaps even stop the fainting, heart attack or hypoglycemic episode from occuring in the waiting room.