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Checklists Can Prevent Career-Ending Mistakes

A simple checklist could save your practice!

Did you know that checklists have their own "day?"

They do. National Checklist Day is October 30th. The day marks one of the most significant events in aviation history, the development of the preflight checklist to prevent airplane accidents. Checklists are a key reason that the U.S. aviation system is the safest transportation system in the history of the world.

The tool is used so effectively at improving safety that they are now used by all sorts of industries. For example, checklists are used in the quality assurance of software engineering to check process compliance, code standardization and error prevention, They are often used in civil litigation to deal with the complexity of discovery and motions practice. Checklists have proven so effective in various aspects of performance improvement, error prevention and management that their use has become accepted all across the world.

Checklists are effective because in the execution of procedures - especially those in done in response to emergencies - the human brain may be subject to three key cognitive limitations:

  1. We may forget to retrieve one of a number of steps in a procedure;

  2. We may retrieve a step but for one reason or another (e.g. distraction, fatigue) may not remember to carry it out; or

  3. We may retrieve the step, remember to carry it out, but execute the action incorrectly.

Checklists prevent mistakes due to all three of these limitations and dramatically improve performance in high stress moments such as emergencies.

Despite the wide spread use of checklists in all industries, there probably won’t be much fanfare for checklists on that day. But, if any industry should celebrate checklists, it's healthcare. Medical checklists have driven error reduction and help medical teams, including those in dental offices, adhere to best practices in clinical care. Peer-reviewed research has shown checklists to reduce patient harm, improve the quality of care, and provide more efficient care.

A checklist provides a concise step-by-step framework or script each dental team member follows to increase efficiency and organization. It also reduces errors and stress, creating a more productive, profitable, and overall successful practice. A concise checklist allows each team member to successfully complete all tasks without having to rely on their memories alone. Providing a reliable list for each role or procedure performed in a dental office can almost guarantee every step gets completed.

Dental checklists are used for:

In addition to their usefulness during a medical emergency, checklists are extremely important prior to an emergency to ensure you have properly prepared your dental practice to manage a medical crisis. Checklists are also critical to documenting your emergency preparation should you ever need it for a regulatory review or legal proceeding. If, after an emergency, your practice is ever challenged, having completed an emergency preparation checklist will help provide proof of your due-diligence and substantiation of medical emergency preparedness. And just as importantly, you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that you and your dental team are ready to save lives and that you have risk-proofed your career.

This is why we say that "Checklists can save your practice."

Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals, including dentists, run their practices without the use of checklists. In fact, 20% of the surgeons who were requested to use a two-minute surgical safety checklist created for the World Health Organization, refused to do so even when the checklist was shown to decrease surgical complications by more than 30%. These naysayers said they didn’t need it nor did they think it was useful.

However, 94% of those same surgeons said they would want the checklist to be used by their surgeons if they were having surgical procedure performed on them. As a dentist, ask yourself the same question, "If I was to have a medical emergency when I was a patient receiving dental care, would I want my dental team to use an emergency checklist?" Interestingly, your patients have already been asked that question in a national survey conducting by Dr. Larry Sangrik, and the answer was, "Yes." Dental patients surveyed indicated that they already expect that you and your team are practicing emergency drills together to prepare for an emergency. Are you?

According to the ADA, nearly 3000 life threatening emergencies occur in dental offices every year. Suddenly, you can go from “career defining” to “career ending” in a matter of minutes.

At Medical Emergency Preparation for Dental Offices you can get every checklist you need, as well as training to go along with them. These have all been developed by our team of top-notch professionals with real world experience. Visit us at to learn more and keep your patients and your practice safe.


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