If you read one book this year …

… make it The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Gawande is the most celebrated medical writer in the US and somehow finds time to actually practice medicine. This book suggests that, in many professions, most notably the operating theatre, great things can come from developing and using checklists so that errors are minimised. The reaction should be: oh, come on. A checklist? Really?

But the book is convincing. Gawande was sceptical but study after study counted up lives saved and so he ended up pushing a wider adoption and then could identify actual instances where his own checklist had saved lives. You read the book and you start wondering whether you should use more checklists. I have actually started doing it and you really can avoid mistakes. I should probably do it for blog posts published here (but let’s not get crazy).

In any case, all I could think of while reading this book was that the Checklist is going to be the killer iPad App. You can download a checklist, check it and upload the record for all relevant people to see. It could impose quite some discipline especially if it could be tied with other performance data.

3 thoughts on “If you read one book this year …”

  1. Am reading it now. Another classic from Gawande.
    He mentions the work of Sholom Glouberman, who has published widely on complex systems.
    In the light of that letter from ‘Myles Peterson’ in Fairfax today on departmental bloat, maybe a massive reorganisation of DoHA is just what is needed to allow good ideas to be adopted at the cutting edge.

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  2. I loved it too. And like you, kept wondering whether I should have checklists in my own academic work. Writeups of randomised trials seemed potentially amenable to checklists.

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