Checklists – ‘Life, Death…’

I’m watching a very interesting documentary featuring Dr Kevin Fong, ‘Life, Death and Mistakes’.*  In this production, Dr Fong investigates how medical practice is looking to other disciplines for methods aimed at reducing mistakes.

A key method involves using checklists. A one page checklist has proven successful in the airline industry. Inspired by this, medical researchers adopted checklists to improve patient safety with dramatic (and replicated) results. The World Health Organisation (WHO) makes patient safety checklists freely available here. See the Surgical Safety Checklist for an example of a how a well designed checklist can be simple and easy to use.

In the context of teaching and mentoring lawyers’ skills in practical legal training, I think of checklists as an essential aid in legal practice (client interviewing and file checklists for specific practice areas), but also as ‘advance organisers‘ for teaching and learning interactions too.

Sometimes simple things are the best. If we remember to use them.

I recommend watching the documentary. Lawyers and legal educators can learn much from other disciplines.

*’Life, Death and Mistakes’ (Horizon) Dr Kevin Fong (Presenter) David Stewart (Director) BBC Production, screened 23 September 2013 on SBS1- available SBS on demand after broadcast.