The Power of a Simple Idea

In 1864 Louis Pasteur showed that airborne microbes caused disease.  As a result since that time the medical profession has insisted that cleanliness, especially around any break in the skin, is paramount.  

Over 137 years later a young doctor wondered why so many patients in the hospital were developing infections after having an intravenous line.  Like any good researcher, he observed what was happening before, during and after an intravenous line was inserted into a patient. Sometimes, procedures that were common knowledge were not being utilized. 

 As a result he created a simple five point checklist to avoid infection when inserting a line. 1. Wash hands with soap; 2. Clean the patient’s skin with antiseptic; 3. Place a sterile drape over the patient; 4. Wear a sterile mask, hat, gown and gloves; 5. Put a sterile dressing over the catheter site.

 This simple idea is credited with saving 1,500 lives in the first 18 months of implementation and the young doctor was named in 2008 to Time magazine’s list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.  The doctor is Peter Pronovost, a critical care researcher at John Hopkins University, who was born and grew up in Waterbury, CT.

 The lesson of this story is that you should not assume that knowledgeable people always remember to do what they know.  The checklist insures that all the necessary steps are performed.  By the way, Dr. Pronovost used an idea from a different field to create his checklist.  The doctor is also a pilot and would never take off without going through the pre-flight checklist.  What checklist would help you achieve greater results?


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