Monday, June 17, 2013

Adding “Legal Care” to the Health Care Checklist

By Marsha Regenstein, Director of Research and Evaluation, NCMLP

Harvard surgeon, New Yorker magazine writer and healthcare quality guru Atul Gawande recommends a simple tool to improve quality and safety for millions of Americans. In a 2009 book called The Checklist Manifesto, Gawande describes the benefits that come with health care checklists to help busy health professionals follow standardized procedures that have been shown to improve outcomes. Checklists work well because they focus attention on proven quality processes that people too often forget about when they are in a complex situation.

Checklists have been used in many different health care contexts and are one of the drivers of airline safety improvements over the past decades. Could the concept of a checklist also advance overall health when it comes to a patient’s legal care needs? Medical-legal partnerships operate within the context of complex health and social service systems and may benefit from a legal care checklist developed from evidence-based interventions associated with better health.

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