Digital checklist doesn't slow trauma teams, study shows

A digital procedural checklist can help physicians in trauma centers improve performance without becoming cumbersome, according to new research.

Researchers from Philadelphia-based Drexel University and clinicians at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., joined forces to create and implement a digital checklist for trauma centers. They detailed the checklist and their findings regarding its effectiveness at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Scotland, taking place May 4-May 9.

Researchers first created a paper checklist, which included 55 tasks. They then analyzed 800 trauma cases in which physicians used the paper checklist to narrow the list down to only the most crucial tasks. They used the shorter list to create a tablet-based digital checklist, which featured areas for note-taking and quick review of unchecked items. They went through 10 major design updates before they deployed the tablet-based checklist at Children's National Medical Center.

Over 15 months at the medical center, the researchers conducted interviews and analyzed video from 94 trauma resuscitations, of which 47 were conducted with team leaders using a paper checklist and 47 with team leaders using the digital checklist.

They found the team that used the digital checklist more frequently completed the 18 most critical tasks in making a trauma assessment. The use of the digital checklist did not cause the team to work more slowly.

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