Practice Safer Surgery Using this App

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 234 million surgeries are performed worldwide. Unfortunately, over 7 million surgical complications will occur resulting in over 1 million deaths. Of these tragic deaths, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters of these are preventable. In 2007, the WHO launched the Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative and published their now-famous checklist. This 19 item checklist has been studied, validated, and published in numerous languages

The checklist was further championed by physician author, Dr. Atul Gawande among others. A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 demonstrated use of the checklist reduced the rate of major inpatient complications from 11% to 7%, and the inpatient death rate following major operations from 1.5% to 0.8%. 


The WHO website lists at least five other published studies demonstrating the life-saving benefits of the checklist. Similar to those seen in the aviation industry, the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist takes complex procedures (surgery) and systematically breaks it down into key tasks. Questions on the checklist are broken down into 3 primary categories: before induction of anesthesia, before skin incision, and before the patient leaves the operating room. The app walks users through any or all of these questions using simply checkmarks and/or voice prompts until the checklist is complete. The app is passcode protected so that individual patient checklists can be stored in the app if desired. 

We have reviewed a number of preop evaluation apps here at iMedicalApps including Dr. Joshua Steinberg’s app Preop Eval and PreOpGuide which help in deciding whether or not a patient is “safe” to proceed to the operating room. This new WHO app moves beyond the preop world and into the OR itself.

Evidence-based medicine

The app takes the popular WHO Surgical Safety Checklist and adapts it to mobile devices. The Checklist has been studied in numerous countries and shown to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality associated with surgical procedures by simply adhering to its relatively simple checklist items/questions. The Checklist has been championed by numerous medical societies, popular authors, and patient safety groups. 

What providers would benefit from this app?

Residents, mid-levels, OR nurses/scrub techs, general surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and any other provider who performs or takes part in surgical procedures.

  • Price
    • Free
  • Likes
    • Checklist can be rapidly completed at the point of care with simple prompts or voice prompts
    • Options to store data on app via secure passcode
    • Available for Android
  • Dislikes
    • More complicated to start checklist than it needs to be or there is a still a “bug” that developers need to address
    • No links to evidence, articles, or other information about the checklist
    • Only available in English
  • Overall

The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist brings the evidence-based, life-saving checklist to mobile devices. The app can be used by virtually anyone, anywhere to ensure the proper “checks” occur prior to surgery. The app, surprisingly, only appears to be available in English at this time.

  • Overall Score
    • 4.5 stars
  • User Interface
    • 4.5 stars

Quick, easy to complete by virtually anyone and includes the ability to securely save data in the app.

  • Multimedia Usage
    • 3.5 stars

Lacks links to references, applicable websites, but does have voice prompts and data-saving capabilities.

  • Price
    • 5 stars

A lifesaving app for free.

  • Real-world applicability
    • 5 stars

A checklist that has been proven to save lives around the world now available in a handy point of care app. Highly recommended for anyone who works in an OR setting.

  • Device Used For Review

iPhone 8 running iOS 13.1.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.