A meta-analysis of the efficacy of preoperative surgical safety checklists to improve perioperative outcomes

Bruce M. Biccard, Reitze N. Rodseth, Larissa Cronje, Peter Agaba, Edson Chikumba, Leon du Toit, Zane Farina, Stephanie Fischer, P. Dean Gopalan, Komalan Govender, Jayd Kanjee, Aidan C. Kingwill, Farai Madzimbamuto, Doreen Mashava, Busisiwe Mrara, Magesvaran Mudely, Ezile Ninise, Justiaan Swanevelder, Agnes Wabule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background. Meta-analyses of the implementation of a surgical safety checklist (SSC) in observational studies have shown a significant decrease in mortality and surgical complications. Objective. To determine the efficacy of the SSC using data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Methods. This meta-analysis followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines and was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42015017546). A comprehensive search of six databases was conducted using the OvidSP search engine. Results. Four hundred and sixty-four citations revealed three eligible trials conducted in tertiary hospitals and a community hospital, with a total of 6 060 patients. All trials had allocation concealment bias and a lack of blinding of participants and personnel. A single trial that contributed 5 295 of the 6 060 patients to the meta-analysis had no detection, attrition or reporting biases. The SSC was associated with significantly decreased mortality (risk ratio (RR) 0.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.42 - 0.85; p=0.0004; I2=0%) and surgical complications (RR 0.64, 95% CI 0.57 - 0.71; p<0.00001; I2=0%). The efficacy of the SSC on specific surgical complications was as follows: respiratory complications RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.21 - 1.70; p=0.33, cardiac complications RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.28 - 1.95; p=0.54, infectious complications RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.29 - 1.27; p=0.18, and perioperative bleeding RR 0.36, 95% CI 0.23 - 0.56; p<0.00001. Conclusions. There is sufficient RCT evidence to suggest that SSCs decrease hospital mortality and surgical outcomes in tertiary and community hospitals. However, randomised evidence of the efficacy of the SSC at rural hospital level is absent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-597
Number of pages6
JournalSouth African Medical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Checklist
  • Complications
  • Morbidity
  • Preoperative care
  • Safety
  • Surgery


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