I am often approached by people who have read Atul Gawande's excellent work and who ask me if we use checklists to improve the quality of care in our hospital. We do, in order to reduce variability where appropriate, but stating the issue in terms of checklists is simplistic. This 2009 Lancet article by Charles Bosk, Peter Pronovost and others, entitled "Reality check for checklists," states it clearly:
The emphasis on checklists is a Hitchcockian “McGuffan”, a distraction from the plot that diverts attention from how safer care is really achieved. Safer care is achieved when all three—not just one—of the following are realised: summarise and simplify what to do; measure and provide feedback on outcomes; and improve culture by building expectations of performance standards into work processes. We propose that widespread deployment of checklists without an appreciation of how or why they work is a potential threat to patients' safety and to high-quality care.