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Getting things right in the operating room

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande

Powerful ideas aren’t always complicated. One remarkably simple intervention devised by HSPH professor and alumnus Atul Gawande—a brief checklist for surgeons, similar to the safety checklists used by airplane pilots—has already prevented tens of thousands of deaths and injuries in dozens of countries around the globe. Beginning in 2007, Gawande. MD ’95, MPH ’99,  led the Safe Surgery Saves Lives program at the World Health Organization (WHO), which created the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist based on his pioneering work at HSPH. In a worldwide pilot study, the safety checklist was shown to reduce deaths and complications following surgery by more than a third. Today, Gawande and others have launched Ariadne Labs, a joint center at HSPH and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital that extends this approach to areas such as childbirth and end-of-life care.