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Wichita Initiative Seeks to Make Surgery Safer

A partnership between hospitals in Wichita has a lofty goal: to make Wichita the safest place in the nation to undergo surgery. As Bryan Thompson explains, the key is a standardized pre-op checklist, no matter where the surgery is being performed, or by whom.

This kind of voluntary checklist, known generally as a “Time Out”, is used at hospitals all across the country. But Dr. Randall Morgan, who chairs the Wichita Quality Health Collaborative Surgical Safety Committee, thinks Wichita is the first city, in Kansas at least, to have the same checklist used at all hospitals and surgical centers.

“There is medical evidence that shows that if you do the Time Out completely, you can reduce the number of deaths in hospitals from surgery by over one-half,” Morgan says.

Nurse Practitioner Ruth Hommertzheim, of Via Christi, says nationwide there are 40 cases a day where surgery is performed on the wrong patient, the wrong body part, or the wrong procedure is done.

“Oftentimes, a physician will be at three different hospitals, doing six different cases in one day, and each hospital had their own Time Out process," Hommertzheim says. "By having all those inconsistencies and all those different processes, it set people up to fail.”

Hommertzheim says the hospitals in Wichita have agreed to compete on service, but collaborate on safety.