A patient care protocol is a kind of checklist. A protocol includes a lot of instructions on how to assess and treat a patient. Within a protocol you might also have several checklists to complete to successfully implement the protocol.
For example, you likely have a protocol for a patient with chest pain. The protocol directs assessment of the patient’s pain and measurement of vital signs. It may also direct initial patient treatments. The protocol may also include a checklist of specific actions:
- Administer medications
- Acquire, read, and transmit 12-lead
A chest pain protocol may also include a checklist for preparing the patient for the cath lab:
- Remove patient’s clothing
- Start at least one IV
- Shave the patient’s groin
- Document specific patient history findings
Checklists can also be useful for situations where additional care providers will arrive on-scene to verify that actions have been taken. For example, a cardiac arrest checklist for the second arriving unit might be focused on first assuring minimal interruptions to chest compressions, before other interventions. A later arriving responder, not in the thick of the action, might be best suited to step back and verify completion of assessment and treatment actions with a checklist.
Some specific situations well suited for a checklist:
- Cardiac arrest
- Respiratory failure
Do you use checklists? Do you think a checklist is different from a protocol? How can checklists improve patient care and EMS professional safety?