Checklists and Einstein

Just finished “The Checklist Manifesto * How To Get Things Right” by Atul Gawante. check It has been a popular book on the review circuit ( see Economist, NY Times) and I think justifiably so.

I think the strength of the book comes not just from the numerous real-life evidence based examples but how the author shows how checklists are not just for simple problems anymore but can also be applied in complex situations, where the focus is not on tasks to-be-done but on communication and sign off. Turns out this social media stuff aligned with something as mundane as a checklist can be very very powerful.

It is an easy read and I would recommend it heartily to anyone with any outsider experience of complex medicine. For example, did you know the average clinic-based doctor in a single year diagnoses over 250 different conditions and prescribes over 300 different types of medication? No wonder it is so hard to prevent complications.

So where does Einstein fit in to all this. One of my favorite Einstein quotes is

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

or as it is often paraphrased

Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Turns out that his quote is one of the fundamental constructs for a good checklist.

Photo Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

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