Let’s talk checklists. I know what you’re thinking – ‘checklists, that item that strikes boredom in the hearts of all,’ but give me a chance here. I mean, Santa Claus uses one and seems to have his job down, so there must be something to it, right?

In my position as operations team leader at Medworks, I find myself constantly trying to refine our processes to make our team untouchable in terms of service quality. We have an amazing, intelligent team of people that together can solve pretty much any problem we come across. That group knowledge, experience, and willingness to work as a team is a huge factor in our success. So where do checklists come in? I’m glad you asked.

At Medworks we offer a multitude of services to hospital operating rooms, including but not limited to equipment rental and laser operation for urological procedures. All of our reps are trained on every piece of equipment we provide, including how each piece functions, the best way to transport it, and what equipment is necessary based on the type of procedure. Ninety-nine percent of the time, all of these tasks are done flawlessly and everything goes off without a hitch. But what about that morning that you stop at Sheetz and end up spending an hour trying to get a snake out of your car? Yes, that actually happened to me this past week. Can we just say it’s possible that I may have been distracted when I got to my next stop of the day? Seriously, I’d give myself a ninety-nine percent chance of forgetting something that I would normally never miss.

So checklists. Honestly, they make it easier for me to sleep at night. With a checklist, the only thing you have to remember is to actually complete the checklist. Is all equipment functioning properly? Is every piece accounted for? Has it been checked into the hospital? Is the inventory accurate? 

“the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.”
Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

When we deliver equipment for cases, all of our reps are required to stop and acknowledge the steps that need to be taken to complete the delivery.  When preparing for a surgery you can imagine how one tiny missed step can become a very big deal. If going through a checklist reveals that something is incorrect or missing for a successful procedure, then that checklist quite possibly has saved the day.  There is a wealth of knowledge within every organization, and how you use it can make or break your performance as a whole.

So if there’s a takeaway here, I would say it is to give checklists a try. The time put in to ensuring accuracy on the front end of a task is well worth the final result and peace of mind. So give it a chance or don’t, I’ll just be over here sleeping like a baby.