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Preparing Your Professional Checklist

Just like a doctor who laid out simple ways to avoid line infection, business leaders could gain from a similar humbling self-discipline

My friend Dr. Bob Spiegel, the chief medical officer at Schering-Plough (SGP), just sent me an amazing article from The New Yorker titled "The Checklist" (Atul Gawande, Dec. 10, 2007), which describes the groundbreaking work done in medical critical-care research by Dr. Peter Pronovost.

In 2001, Dr. Pronovost developed a checklist to tackle one problem: line infection, a common complication that may occur when a catheter is inserted into the body. His checklist to avoid line infection is incredibly simple. "Doctors are supposed to (1) wash their hands with soap, (2) clean the patient's skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic, (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient, (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown, and gloves, and (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site once the line is in."