Guidance for Fellows in implementing surgical safety checklists for radiological procedures

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In January 2009, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) issued an alert supported by the Chief Medical Officer and the Health Minister requiring all healthcare organisations in England and Wales to implement the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist by February 2010. 

The NPSA and the RCR subsequently issued an amended version of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist for use with image-guided interventions. The intention is to use the checklist when carrying out any diagnostic biopsy or therapeutic procedure within the radiology department. This was based heavily on the version of the checklist for use in operating theatre environments.

As clinical radiologists, we have a duty of care to do no harm to patients and the checklist should be seen as a tool to ensure patient safety and improve clinical practice. The checklist is not intended to replace current good practice, but should facilitate a pause for thought and discussion before carrying out any invasive procedure within the busy working environment of a radiology department.