A checklist can act as a “road map” for a monitor performing a study site visit. What better way to track what has or has not been done and what important questions need to be asked then by using the sometimes forgotten but always reliable checklist? A well prepared checklist results in a greater likelihood that the sponsor’s goals for a visit will be met. A checklist can also be used as proof that certain tasks were accomplished.
At the end of the day, a checklist maintains focus and creates a better work flow. And no one would argue against improving work flow!
Some key points to keep in mind when developing a checklist:
- Keep it concise: long enough to be valuable, but short enough to ensure that it get used
- Test out the prototype and update it to maximize effectiveness
- Put it in an updateable format: make it site and sponsor specific (run off copies before the site visit)
- Put like items in sections to maximize use
- Repeat critical elements in more than one section
In Dr. Gawande’s book “The Checklist Manifesto”, he argues that, no matter how expert a person may be, a well-designed checklist can improve the likelihood of a positive outcome. A checklist “gets the dumb stuff out of the way; the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with…..and lets it rise above and focus on the hard stuff”. A checklist allows us to complete simple tasks while freeing our minds to perform more complex tasks.
It is amazing how something as simple as a checklist can reduce errors and increase efficiency. Given the many balls that we juggle in the clinical research world, such as the complexity of ensuring that all the Federal Regulations are followed, that sites are compliant, that the data is clean as we travel site to site, checklists can help us keep a handle on things! Let us know your experiences with checklists. Do you find them useful in your daily tasks?
Photo Credit: kkirugi