A checklist is a type of job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It helps to ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task. A basic example is the "to do list". A more advanced checklist would be a schedule, which lays out tasks to be done according to time of day or other factors. A primary task in checklist is documentation of the task and auditing against the documentation.
In professional diving, checklists are used in the preparation of equipment for a dive, and to ensure that the diver and life support systems are fully prepared before they enter the water. To a lesser extent, checklists are used by a minority of recreational divers, and by a larger proportion of technical divers during pre-dive checks. Studies have shown checklists to be effective at reducing the number of errors and consequent incidents.
Health care use
Checklists have been used in healthcare practice to ensure that clinical practice guidelines are followed. An example is the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist developed for the World Health Organization and found to have a large effect on improving patient safety and subsequently found to have a nil effect in a cohort of hospitals in the Province of Ontario in Canada. According to a meta-analysis after introduction of the checklist mortality dropped by 23% and all complications by 40%, higher-quality studies are required to make the meta-analysis more robust. However, checklist use in healthcare has not always met with success and the transferability between settings has been questioned. In the UK, a study on the implementation of a checklist for provision of medical care to elderly patients admitting to hospital found that the checklist highlighted limitations with frailty assessment in acute care and motivated teams to review routine practices, but that work is needed to understand whether and how checklists can be embedded in complex multidisciplinary care.
Checklists are often presented as lists with small checkboxes down the left hand side of the page. A small tick or checkmark is drawn in the box after the item has been completed.
Other formats are also sometimes used. Aviation checklists generally consist of a system and an action divided by a dashed line, and lack a checkbox as they are often read aloud and are usually intended to be reused.
Excessive dependence of checklists may hinder performance when dealing with a time-critical situation, for example a medical emergency or an in-flight emergency. Checklists should not be used as a replacement for common sense. Intensive training including rote-learning of checklists can help integrate use of checklists with more adaptive and flexible problem solving techniques.
Check sheet – A form (document) used to collect data in real time at the location where the data is generated
Checksum – A small-size datum computed from digital data for detecting transmission errors
Task list organization – the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities
Punch list, also known as snag list – A document prepared near the end of a construction project listing work not conforming to contract specifications
^Higgins, W. Y., and D. J. Boorman. "An analysis of the effectiveness of checklists when combined with other processes, methods and tools to reduce risk in high hazard activities." Boeing Tech J (2016).
^Urbach DR, Govindarajan A, Saskin R, Wilton AS, Baxter NN (March 2014). "Introduction of surgical safety checklists in Ontario, Canada". N. Engl. J. Med. 370 (11): 1029–38. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1308261. PMID24620866.
^Bergs, J; Hellings, J; Cleemput, I; Zurel, Ö; De Troyer, V; Van Hiel, M; Demeere, JL; Claeys, D; Vandijck, D (Feb 2014). "Systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of the World Health Organization surgical safety checklist on postoperative complications". The British Journal of Surgery. 101 (3): 150–8. doi:10.1002/bjs.9381. PMID24469615.