VA Medical Malpractice Lawyers, World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Checklist Reduces Medical Malpractice | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The World Health Organization has recently adopted a resolution intended to reduce the number of instances of medical malpractice occurring during all types of surgery. This includes open procedures (laparotomies), as well as procedures using small incisions to allow the introduction of surgical instruments into the body (laparoscopies).

The resolution calls for each surgical team to adopt a surgical safety checklist. The checklist has three parts: sign in, time out and sign out.

During the sign in phase, the surgical team must confirm the identity of the patient, the surgery site (i.e. gall bladder removal, hysterectomy, etc.) and that the patient has properly given his or her permission or consent to the surgical procedure. The time out portion of the checklist occurs before the first skin incision. This includes a confirmation that all surgical team members have introduced themselves by name and role and that the operating surgeon and the anesthesiologist verbally confirm the identity of the patient, the site of the surgery and the procedure to be performed.

Finally, the sign out portion of the checklist occurs before the patient leaves the operating room and includes confirming the name of the procedure performed, confirming that all instruments, sponges and needles have been correctly accounted for and includes a notation as to whether any surgical instruments created a problem during the procedure.


The use of this checklist is intended to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims that occur as a result of surgical mistakes in the operating room. However, it is certainly not a foolproof procedure and medical malpractice may occur even when using this checklist.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence, whether it be by a doctor, hospital or nurse, you should retain the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Our experienced malpractice attorneys have successfully represented victims of medical malpractice in Virginia (VA) North Carolina (NC).