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National Patient Safety Agency

Surgical Safety Checklist for Cataract Surgery published

09 June 2010


The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has published a checklist aimed at supporting safer cataract surgery across the NHS. 


The Surgical Safety Checklist for Cataract Surgery, an adaptation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist, requires surgeons to follow a list of basic checks.


These include checking whether the equipment has been sterilised and if the relevant surgical site has been marked.


Some of the other requirements from the checklist include:

  • if the patient has confirmed his/her identity;

  • whether the anaesthesia machine and medication check complete;

  • if the patient has a known allergy.

The checklist, developed by the NPSA and Royal College of Ophthalmologists, follows 450 patient safety incidents reported between January 2008 and December 2009 that ranged from no or severe harm to the patient. 


Dr Suzette Woodward, Director of Patient Safety at the NPSA said: “We have listened to our colleagues in ophthalmology and have created, alongside the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, a vital tool to reduce harm associated with cataract surgery. 


“Implementation of safer surgical checklists have found to be very effective, especially if a ‘team brief’ is included before the list starts and a ‘team debrief’ at the end of the list. 


“Feedback received from front line staff shows that briefings and debriefings have proven vital in improving team work and communication.”


Mr Winfried Amoaku, Chairman of the Scientific Committee at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists said: “The adaptation of the WHO Surgical Checklist for Cataract Surgery means that clinical teams can ensure that all specific risk factors for this type of surgery can be addressed. 


“The checklist ensures that a more consistent approach to the procedures is used by Ophthalmologists in England and Wales.”


A copy of the checklist is available on the NPSA website – www.nrls.npsa.nhs.uk/resources/




Note to editors:


1. Media enquiries to the NPSA Press Office:
Simon Morgan – 020 7927 9580 / simon.morgan@npsa.nhs.uk
Dominic Stevenson – 020 7927 9351 / dominic.stevenson@npsa.nhs.uk

Out of hours – 0788 411 5956


2. The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) is an Arm’s Length Body of the Department of Health. It encompasses three divisions; the National Research Ethics Service, Patient Safety and the National Clinical Assessment Service. The NPSA’s vision is to lead and contribute to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing healthcare individuals and organisations. For more information visit: www.npsa.nhs.uk.


3. The Surgical Safety Checklist is one of the initiatives which form part of the 10 for 2010 Improvement Programme supported by the NPSA to help the NHS reduce harm associated with 10 high risk areas of healthcare