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Checklists and Other Cognitive Aids For Emergency And Routine Anesthesia Care-A Survey on the Perception of Anesthesia Providers From a Large Academic US Institution.



The use of printed or electronic checklists and other cognitive aids has gained increasing interest from anesthesia providers and professional societies. While these aids are not currently considered standard of care, the perceptions of the clinician might have an impact on their adoption.


We conducted a comprehensive survey to study the current opinions of anesthesia provider on the use of checklists and other cognitive aids.

Patients and methods

A questionnaire was developed by a departmental checklist focus group, which aimed to identify the perception of health care checklists in general as well as specific checklists for routine and crisis situations in anesthesia. Furthermore participants were asked regarding their perception of performing routine anesthesia and managing crisis situations without any cognitive aids. Using a web-based system, the survey was administered to all anesthesia providers at a single large United States academic medical center (University of California San Francisco). Demographic information included professional status (faculty, anesthesia resident, or nurse anesthetists [certified registered nurse anesthetists; CRNA]) and years of clinical experience.


69% of 312 providers responded. 98% of the survey takers consider the procedural time-out (the widely used pre-incision operating room checklist) as important or very important. We found that many anesthesia providers acknowledged limitations in their ability to perform clinical tasks without any lapses, and a majority would use checklists and other cognitive aids if available. Their acceptances are especially high for crisis situations (87 - 97%, depending on years of experience) and routine care that providers do not perform often (76 - 91%). Printed or electronic aids for patient-care transition and shift hand-offs were also valued (61% and 58%). To prepare for and perform routine anesthesia care, 40% of providers claimed interest in using checklists, however, the interest differed significantly with clinical experience: While both the least and most experienced providers valued aids for routine anesthesia (54% and 50%), only 29% of providers with 2 - 10 years of anesthesia experience claimed interest in using them. Distraction from patient care and decreased efficiency were concerns expressed for the use of routine checklist (27% and 31%, respectively). The main factors found to support the successful implementation of checklists into clinical care are ease of use and thoughtful integration into the anesthesia workflow.


Providers at our large academic institution generally embrace the concept of checklists and other cognitive aids. This was true for all providers for checklists for procedural time outs, anesthesia crisis situations and those for routine procedures that providers rarely perform. Only very experienced and very junior providers appreciated the use of checklists for routine care. There remains a discrepancy between these claims and provider's perception on their clinical competency based on memory alone.

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