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The Checklist Manifesto : How to Get Things Right
by Atul Gawande

Overview -

The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Better" and "Complications" reveals the surprising power of the ordinary checklist

We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face.  Read more...


 
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More About The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
 
 
 
Overview

The "New York Times" bestselling author of "Better" and "Complications" reveals the surprising power of the ordinary checklist

We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies--neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple ninety-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.

In riveting stories, Gawande takes us from Austria, where an emergency checklist saved a drowning victim who had spent half an hour underwater, to Michigan, where a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from disaster response to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds.

An intellectual adventure in which lives are lost and saved and one simple idea makes a tremendous difference, "The Checklist Manifesto" is essential reading for anyone working to get things right.

Atul Gawande is the author of "Better" and "Complications." He is also a MacArthur Fellow, a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for "The New Yorker," and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He lives with his wife and three children in Newton, Massachusetts.

Taxed with great and increasing complexity, even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies--neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy to this disquieting problem in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist.
First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple ninety-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.
Gawande provides real testimonials in the form of riveting stories. In Austria, an emergency checklist saved a drowning victim who had spent half an hour underwater. In Michigan, a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements to procedure and increase positive results, even under the most precarious circumstances. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from disaster response to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds.
Gawande shows how one simple idea can make a tremendous difference. "The Checklist Manifesto" is essential reading for anyone working to get things right. "Few medical writers working today can transmit the gore-drenched terror of an operation that suddenly goes wrong--a terror that has a special resonance when it is Dr. Gawande himself who makes the initial horrifying mistake. And few can make it as clear as he can what exactly is at stake in the effort to minimize calamities."--"The New York Times" "Few medical writers working today can transmit the gore-drenched terror of an operation that suddenly goes wrong--a terror that has a special resonance when it is Dr. Gawande himself who makes the initial horrifying mistake. And few can make it as clear as he can what exactly is at stake in the effort to minimize calamities."--"The New York Times" "Even skeptical readers will find the evidence staggering . . . Thoughtfully written and soundly defended, this book calls for medical professionals to improve patient care by adopting a basic, common-sense approach."--"The Washington Post" "A persuasive champion of his cause."--"The Economist" "Gawande deftly weaves in examples of checklist successes in diverse fields like aviation and skyscraper construction . . . Fascinating reading."--"The New York Times Book Review" "This is a brilliant book about an idea so simple it sounds dumb until you hear the case for it. Atul Gawande presents an argument so strong that I challenge anyone to go away from this book unconvinced."--"The Seattle Times" "Fascinating . . . presents a convincing case that adopting more checklists will surely help."--"Bloomberg News" "Gawande argues convincingly and eloquently."--"San Francisco Chronicle" "I read "The Checklist Manifesto" in one sitting yesterday, which is an amazing tribute to the book that Gawande has crafted. Not only is the book loaded with fascinating stories, but it honestly changed the way I think about the world. It is the best book I've read in ages."--Steven Levitt, author of "Freakonomics"
"A vivid, punchy exposition of an intriguing idea: that by-the-book routine trumps individual prowess."--"Publishers Weekly"

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780805091748
  • ISBN-10: 0805091742
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books
  • Publish Date: December 2009
  • Page Count: 209


Related Categories

Books > Medical > Surgery - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 39.
  • Review Date: 2009-11-30
  • Reviewer: Staff

That humblest of quality-control devices, the checklist, is the key to taming a high-tech economy, argues this stimulating manifesto. Harvard Medical School prof and New Yorker scribe Gawande (Complications) notes that the high-pressure complexities of modern professional occupations overwhelm even their best-trained practitioners; he argues that a disciplined adherence to essential procedures—by ticking them off a list—can prevent potentially fatal mistakes and corner cutting. He examines checklists in aviation, construction, and investing, but focuses on medicine, where checklists mandating simple measures like hand washing have dramatically reduced hospital-caused infections and other complications. Gawande gets slightly intoxicated over checklists, celebrating their most banal manifestations as promethean breakthroughs (“First there was the recipe, the most basic checklist of all,” he intones in a restaurant kitchen). He's at his best delivering his usual rich, insightful reportage on medical practice, where checklists have the subversive effect of puncturing the cult of physician infallibility and fostering communication and teamwork. (After writing a checklist for his specialty, surgery, he is chagrined when it catches his own disastrous lapses.) Gawande gives a vivid, punchy exposition of an intriguing idea: that by-the-book routine trumps individual prowess. (Jan.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The power of one very simple tool

Atul Gawande writes for The New Yorker, but by trade he‘s a surgeon; after a particularly harrowing operation in which the patient nearly died, he took a hard look at what had gone wrong and he found that a simple error had nearly doomed his patient. Not long after, he happened upon an anecdote that piqued his interest—an account of an Austrian community hospital where a girl had been brought back from apparent brain death due to drowning. Intrigued, he began searching the literature for a confirmation of what had occurred in Austria, and he found it in a Johns Hopkins study detailing a reduction in infections after surgery. They had one factor in common, and that was the use of a checklist.

The Checklist Manifesto is Gawande’s account of this “aha!” moment, and his search—under the auspices of the World Health Organization—to find out if something as simple as a checklist could improve patient survival rates. The quest led him in many different directions, one of which was the obvious idea of trying it out in real-life situations. As he recounts, this was not as easy as it might seem, because surgeons as a rule are confident and headstrong and don’t take kindly to being second-guessed by a sheet of paper. It also led him to the construction industry and the complex process of building a skyscraper. To ensure that tasks get done correctly (and to keep the thing from collapsing), construction engineers use—you guessed it—a checklist. Finally, Gawande gained some priceless insight from the aviation industry.

Unless you avoid newspapers and television, you’ve probably heard of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549. After taking off from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on January 15, 2009, the plane struck a flock of geese, unbelievably losing both engines in the process. While he was justly heralded for gliding the airliner to a safe landing in the Hudson, Sullenberger resisted efforts by the press to make him a hero, insisting that it was a team effort. Gawande points out that today’s modern airliner is so incredibly complex that no one person, or even a team of people, can operate one safely on their own; the crew of Flight 1459 relied on a simple tool during their forced landing. That tool is one that has been used by pilots everywhere almost since the dawn of aviation—the checklist.

Atul Gawande’s determined effort to see his theory through is at the heart of The Checklist Manifesto, and its implications are widespread; he shows us a simple tool for complex problems that can be applied to business, government and just about any situation where unanticipated complications can lead to disaster. It remains to be seen whether this surgical Cassandra’s solution will be heeded.

James Neal Webb works for the Vanderbilt University Library.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

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