The last time we were in Choibalsan, as part of our training program, we introduced the WHO surgical checklist and emphasized the importance of the “surgical timeout.” This short verbalization of the operative game plan introduces the patient, the procedure, and any known issues or potential areas of concern. The “timeout” serves to put the whole operating team on the same page. It is a moment of pause before you carry on with serious business, and sometimes, can be almost, like a prayer.
During this trip, we were happy to learn that the Choibalsan team had adopted the “time out” for all of their procedures. We brought additional translated copies of the WHO surgical checklist for the new operating rooms and started to teach the concept of the “debrief.” I am sure our star students will adopt this practice as well as they have the timeout.
(I encourage anyone who is interested in global health to read Atwul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto)