Friday, July 8, 2011

3-2-1 Time-Out

Today's space shuttle launch of Atlantis is a great opportunity to discuss the Universal Protocol or "Time-Out" process. The launch nicely demonstrated the importance of the time-out process and why it works. Using checklists have long been used in the aviation industry and for good reason, yet healthcare entities, namely surgical and procedural areas remain reluctant to embrace the practice.

With 31 seconds on the countdown clock of the final Space Shuttle Mission due to a failure of the camera,  the clock briefly stopped. The failure prompted the NASA team to ensure the swing-arm had cleared the external hydrogen tank in preparation for take off. Each Mission Control member was heard verbally confirming the arm was clear. After it was determined that it was in fact clear, they all had to verbally agree to proceed followed by a mini-countdown to resume the official countdown clock to lift-off. 

I was impressed at the order and efficiency in which the NASA officials identified the issue, determined it was acceptable and resumed the countdown, only after everyone confirmed and agreed it was safe to proceed. Bravo to them - they continue to be light years ahead of medicine!

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