The Checklist Manifesto

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The Checklist Manifesto
The Checklist Manifesto.jpg
AuthorAtul Gawande
PublisherMetropolitan Books
Publication date
December 22, 2009

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a 2009 non-fiction book by Atul Gawande. It was released on December 22, 2009 through Metropolitan Books and focuses on the use of checklists in relation to several elements of daily and professional life.[1] The book looks at the use of checklists in the business world and the medical profession,[2] with Gawande examining how it could be used for greater efficiency, consistency and safety.[3] Gawande stated he was inspired to write The Checklist Manifesto after reading a story about a young child who survived a fall into a frozen pond and discovering the physician who saved her relied heavily on checklists.[4]

Critical reception for the book has been mostly positive,[5][6] with Newsday calling it "thoughtfully written".[7] The Seattle Times also gave a positive review.[8]

About Atul Gawande[edit]

Gawande was the son of Indian immigrant parents and grew up in Athens, Ohio. He became Congressional staff member, and later chief health and social policy director for the Clinton campaign. Gawande then finished his medical degree at Harvard, and completed his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. While in residency, he began to write for Slate magazine about the breakdowns he observed in the medical system. During residency, he also became a staff writer for the New Yorker, and wrote three New York Time’s bestsellers.

Important Details in the Novel[edit]

The book begins with Gawande’s experiences as a surgeon. But he becomes interested with how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. Gawande deeply makes a distinction between  mistakes we make because we don’t know enough, and mistakes we make because we don’t make proper use of what we know. He goes through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons are incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are inevitable.  Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with the solution that experts need written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure.Checklists seemed to have a two fold reduction in operating room accidents and/or postoperatory infections and complications. Atul Gawande e uses examples from other fields to bring his point around such as aviation.

Examples of Checklists in the Novel[edit]

Gawande writes how important checklists are to the medical profession, especially surgeons. Gawande and a team of researchers studied what happened when doctors used a reminder, or a so called bedside aide to go through complex procedures. A two minute checklist was introduced into operating rooms in eight hospitals, and the checklists contained basic information such as ensuring that blood is available and that there is an abundance of antibiotics. Due to these checklists, there were better results in each of the eight hospitals because miniscule mistakes were avoided. When implementing checklists for surgical procedures, Gawande noted that many surgeons are hesitnat to employ this tactic because they find running through a checklist before a surgery is a hassle and unnecessary. This may also be because doctors have a lot of pride and don't want to admit to their mistakes.

Why Use Checklists?[edit]

Checklists are vital so that one can remember monotonous tasks, or the tasks that become second nature because they may become boring. The tasks that are sometimes the most boring are the ones that people tend to skip obver. Writing these down can be a helpful reminder to get these miniscule activities done. The fact that there is sometimes so much information that one must remember is another reaon why checklists can be used for organization. Gawande writes that there are two different types of checklists known as "READ-DO" and "DO-CONFIRM." A READ-DO checklist is defined as reading the actual task you are going to do before completing it. This is usually done for very complicated tasks. The DO-CONFIRM checklist is often utilized for monotonous tasks that one is likely to skim over.

How to Make a Successful Checklist[edit]

For surgeons, Gawande makes useful reccomendations to make successful checklists. For example, keeping them short allows one to follow through with the tasks more efficiently. Gawande states that the ideal amount of points you want on your checklist are 5-9. Any less than that and there’s no point in bothering with a checklist, but any more and one probably won’t end up following all of the steps. Another useful tip is to keep the checklist in a language that is understandable to anoyone, if one uses jargon they are less likely to go through with it. Lastly, more specifically for those in the medical profession, one must be attentive to the simple tasks, because those are the tasks one is more likely to look over.

Additional Links Used[edit]


  1. ^ "One Thing After Another". New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Book Review Podcast: Atul Gawande". NY Times. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  3. ^ "'Checklist Manifesto' Author Pairs Simplicity With Lifesaving". PBS. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  4. ^ "ALA 2010 Midwinter Meeting: Gawande Picks Up the Checklist at Sunrise Speakers Series". Library Journal. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Review: The Checklist Manifesto". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Review: Checklist Manifesto". Booklist. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  7. ^ "'The Checklist Manifesto' by Atul Gawande". Newsday. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  8. ^ "'The Checklist Manifesto': a simple, brilliant prescription for getting things right". Seattle Times. Retrieved 29 March 2013.

External links[edit]