Transformation: Safer Surgery.

21 February 2015

I spent last week across the country, teaching the Checklist.

It was awesome. And it was really hard.  And hopefully, it was successful.

There were many, many really good moments.  The moment we realized one doctor went from completely against to completely for the checklist in a few hours time.  The excitement and laughter from the nurses as Jen taught them how to count instruments and swabs - such an empowering and life-saving skill that they are so excited to learn.  The laughter as one male participant volunteered as a patient for a cesarean simulation.  The gratefulness expressed in the words and eyes and hearts of the participants, that we would come and bless them and encourage them to keep on doing good for those in need.

There were hard moments, too.   At one point in the week, the entire team was really discouraged.  And this is what I wrote that afternoon:

We aren't fighting to save a life on the operating table today... we're fighting to save thousands, through changed behaviors... changing habits that were instilled long before the bullet entered the body....  It's significantly less bloody, but seemingly just as painful.

It really felt like we were fighting though as if it were a long, arduous surgery.  There were things in the way that had to be removed; habits, behaviors, and attitudes.  Words had to be presented and then re-presented in a different way, and sometimes one more time, just to get a point across.  But perseverance paid off and by the end of our time there I really believe we left them in a better place than when we arrived.  One can hope the safety of their surgical practice has been impacted, and we'll find out in a few months time when we go back for a follow-up visit.

It just reminds me that this is hard. No one really knows how to do it, there isn't a foolproof way to teach or to change behaviors or to see implementation.  But the important thing is that we are out there, trying, seeking transformation, and not letting a little discouragement stop us.   Thanks to the team for working hard, for getting out there, for trying, and for your passion for safer surgery for all.  

What's next?  Well, the coming months are full to the brim of mentoring programs, courses, follow-up trips, and various other projects including plans for our next field service here in Madagascar.  I just shake my head and wonder, how is this my life?  Two years ago I wouldn't have had a guess to a response if you asked me how to make surgery safer. Now, it's my passion.  Thanks so much for your support!!

An effective, safe surgery can save a life. An effective, safe surgical education program can save thousands.

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