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Washington Surgeons Set New Guidelines for Patient Safety
Standardized pre-operative practices decrease patients' risks

SEATTLE, Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington State surgeons and the Strong for Surgery program announce today the release of standardized guidelines for pre-operative care in the form of pre-surgical checklists. Strong for Surgery is issuing a set of checklists and tools available to all surgeons to use in their offices or by patients at home to ensure that the health of patients is optimized before surgery. The Strong for Surgery checklists assess whether patients have modifiable risks for surgery and then offer a set of interventions to reduce the risk before hospitalization. They address four target areas: nutritional support to prevent infections, reducing cigarette smoking, reviewing and coordinating potentially dangerous medications, and improving diabetes care before surgery.  Nearly one-third of hospitalized patients experience adverse events related to their care, and far too often these events are preventable.  While quality improvement initiatives have made surgery safer and have achieved improved outcomes, they usually focus on the care of patients once they enter the hospital. Strong for Surgery provides the opportunity for early intervention to reduce risks prior to hospitalization.

A group of committed surgeons developed the Strong for Surgery pre-surgical checklists. Checklists are not new to surgery.  The State of Washington was an early adopter of the SCOAP surgical checklist, ensuring that every operating room across the state posted the operative checklist in 2010. 

"Strong for Surgery takes the idea of checklists and moves them to where decisions are being made before the patient gets to the hospital," said Dr. Tom Varghese, MD, who is leading Strong for Surgery. "Putting the checklist in every doctor's office across the state takes the focus of surgical safety beyond the operating room.  Surgical preparedness now becomes part of the basic conversation about planning for surgery and the patient shares in that process. It empowers patients."

Strong for Surgery is a public health campaign that engages doctors, nurses, other clinical staff and – most importantly – patients and their families to make Strong for Surgery checklisting universal. Free toolkits to assist doctor's offices, clinics, and hospitals in successfully implementing the Strong for Surgery checklists are available on the website at The toolkits contain all of the Strong for Surgery checklists, and all of the accompanying resources, references, forms, and other supporting materials. There is a specific section on the website for patients, so that individuals may download the checklists and bring them to their doctor's office to ensure that any areas of concern are reviewed and addressed.


Strong for Surgery is an initiative of CERTAIN, Washington State's "learning healthcare system," a network of over 40 diverse hospitals, clinics, and organizations participating in continuous evaluation of healthcare delivery and learning to get to better patient care.  CERTAIN and Strong for Surgery are programs of the University of Washington.


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