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Creating Your Pre-Op Checklist and Post-Op Checklist Templates

In private surgical practices, pre-operative checklists and post-operative checklists are commonly used by admin staff. It forms an important part of documenting the needs and requirements for a patient who is having an upcoming procedure

In this article, our Professional Education Manager, Cheryl Ladikos, outlines the guiding principles for having a pre-op and post-op checklist, why it’s important, and how to effectively create these checklists that is tailored for each individual practice.  

Whether you’re a New Fellow, Practice Manager or Business Manager, it is important to develop tools that your admin staff can use and one of the common tools of a surgical practice is a pre-op checklist and post-op checklist. These checklists, often combined into one, can help practices to prepare a patient for an upcoming procedure. It follows the patient’s journey from start to finish and focuses on health and safety. These checklists also become a vital communication tool and auditing trail in a patient’s medical record. 


What are the guiding principles in pre- and post-operative care? 

Based on my experience as a Practice Manager, I believe there are three guiding principles in developing the most effective pre- and post-op care: 


Guiding Principle 1: Understand Perioperative Care 

Perioperative care is the care given to patients before, during, and after surgery and can take place in a hospital, day surgery or within a private practice. Perioperative care generally includes three stages: 

  1. Pre-operative  
  2. Intra-operative 
  3. Post-operative 

In most cases, it is the first and third stage that is used in a private practice as the intra-operative stage is managed within a hospital environment. 

The aim of understanding perioperative care is to provide better conditions for a patient before a procedure takes place. By collecting information prior to surgery, a practice can make better decisions about advanced care planning. This also helps patients to prepare for surgery, whether physically or emotionally. 

Nurses play an important role in the care of their patients. The care provided should be competent, holistic and evidenced based and must consider the patient’s emotional and psychological responses, as described in this HealthTimes article. 


Guiding Principle 2: Understand Your Patient’s Needs 

When developing a pre- and post-operative checklist for your practice, it is first and foremost about your patient. Your patient is entrusting the Surgeon with a procedure which is to improve or promote better health outcomes and your practice has a duty of care to ensure that the procedure will run smoothly. Your patients have different experiences, and you need to prepare them physically and emotionally and to ensure that they are well-informed prior to surgery. 

  • Patient – what information do you need from your patient so that safe care is provided? What information do you need to provide to your patient so that they are well-informed about their upcoming procedure? 


Guiding Principle 3: Understand Other Stakeholder Needs 

By adopting patient-centric care, you must then consider the needs and requirements that fulfill all these important stakeholders: 

  • Surgeon – what does the Surgeon need to perform the procedure effectively and safely? 
  • Anaesthetist – what information do they need to know about the patient for safe choice and dosage of anaesthesia? 
  • Assistant Surgeo- not all procedures require an Assistant Surgeon however, if needed, what information do they need to know about your patient so that they can effectively and safely assist the Surgeon? 
  • Hospital Theatre – what information do they need to know about your patient and the Surgeon’s needs, to ensure a safe operating environment? 


Why is a pre- and post-op checklist important? 

Pre-op and post-op checklists are an important communication tool used within private surgical practices for each patient having an upcoming procedure. It is important for administrative staff to be aware of these tools and how to use them effectively, as it is not just a list with tick boxes. These checklists are important because it becomes an auditing trail to demonstrate how your practice has effectively prepared for the health and safety of your patient’s upcoming surgical procedure. 


How can I create a pre- and post-op checklist? 

The following list provides information about how you can create a pre- and post-op checklist: 

  • Pre- and post-op checklist templates needs to be tailored for each individual practice.  
  • Create a template which can be used for all procedures, rather than a checklist for each procedure. 
  • Ask the Surgeon and Anaesthetist(s) to find out what are the common key questions that they need to have answered prior to surgery. 
  • Develop rapport with your Hospital Admissions or Theatre Managers and find out what information they would like to obtain from your practice. 
  • Draft a list and formulate the questions in a chronological order, making sure that each question is easily understood by admin staff. 
  • Create your final list into your practice management software, if it has the capability of creating Checklist Templates like in Clinic to Cloud. 
  • Educate your staff about using the checklist for each procedure, and how to use it. 


For a list of commonly asked questions, click on this link to download a copy of our Private Practice Pre-Op and Post-Op Checklist Guide. 


For more information on Clinic to Cloud, click here or contact us today.

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Cheryl Ladikos
Cheryl is the Professional Education Manager at Clinic to Cloud and has over 20 years’ experience in the healthcare industry with 10 years’ experience as a Practice Manager for private specialist clinics. She has also worked in other areas ranging from hospitals, medical device sales, case management for Workers’ Compensation, and training roles. She has a passion for sharing knowledge, having an inclusive environment, solving problems, and ensuring that everyone adopts a growth mindset. As a Registered Nurse with a Master of Business Administration, she curates and delivers educational content which is both clinically and commercially driven.