Who safe surgery saves lives

The Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative was established by the World Alliance for Patient Safety as part of the World Health Organization's efforts to reduce the number of surgical deaths across the world. The aim of this initiative is to harness political commitment and clinical will to address important safety issues, including inadequate anaesthetic safety practices, avoidable surgical infection and poor communication among team members. These have proved to be common, deadly and preventable problems in all countries and settings.

To assist operating teams in reducing the number of these events, the Alliance - in consultation with surgeons, anaesthesiologists, nurses, patient safety experts and patients around the world - has identified a set of safety checks that could be performed in any operating room. The aim of the resulting WHO Surgical Safety Checklist First Edition (available at www.who.int/patientsafety/challenge/safe.surgery/en/index.html) is to reinforce accepted safety practices and foster better communication and teamwork between clinical disciplines. The Checklist is not a regulatory device or a component of official policy; it is intended as a tool for use by clinicians interested in improving the safety of their operations and reducing unnecessary surgical deaths and complications.