Just read something I find hard to believe. Found it in a short article by Liz Szabo writing for USA Today. She says that, according to a report released online in The New England Journal of Medicine, “Eight hospitals reduced the number of deaths from surgery by more than 40% by using a checklist that helps doctors and nurses avoid errors.”
The article goes on to suggest that, “If all hospitals used the same checklist, they could save tens of thousands of lives and $20 billion in medical costs each year.”
Szabo says the Journal article quotes a surgeon and associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who explains, “An operation involves hundreds of steps with lots of team members…We’re good at making sure we do most of these things most of the time, but we’re not good at doing all of them all of the time.”
The last thing I want to do is to be self-righteously moralistic or unrealistically critical of anyone. I’m even thinking that what I’m about to say sounds like one of those, “In a perfect world” kind of scenarios. But the New England Journal of Medicine study seems to be dealing in such realistic possibilities for change that I’m wondering, what if we could realize just a fraction of those results in our own individual lives by taking the time to be more careful in how we relate to those around us.
For instance, instead of a checklist of 19, what if we had a checklist of 7 that we used to second guess ourselves whenever we are approaching a threshold of conflict? What if we gave even the briefest, “please Lord help me” to do this” calls for help before doing something that had the potential for real-life consequences?
My thoughts go to the Apostle James who is practical in applying the ways of Jesus to problems like class prejudice, careless criticism, and the mindless things we say about those who either aren’t like us– or don’t like us.
First James encourages followers of Christ to ask for wisdom when we don’t know what God wants us to do in times of trouble (James 1:5). Then he goes on in the 3rd chapter of that letter to tell us how to recognize such wisdom when God gives it to us (James 3:13-18)
According to James who had already seen a lot of conflict in his time, it’s really about being more careful to recognize why we’re doing something and how those motives are affecting the manner in which we respond to those around us (James 3:16). So he goes on to suggest that the wisdom that comes from God is:
(1) Pure (motive)… then (2) peaceable… (3) gentle… (4) willing to yield (i.e. to truth and grace)… (5) full of mercy and good fruits…(6) without partiality… and (7) without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)
Yeh, I know, in a perfect world… But still, if the New England Journal of Medicine is willing to publish speculation about a surgical room checklist that could save 10,000s of lives and 20 billion dollars, maybe it really is worth thinking about the what could happen if we ramped up our desire to seek the help of Christ in… I know this is nothing new… and it’s theoretical… am still thinking about the real possibilities– both ways…