The Power of Lists

I’m on record as being an enormous fan of making, keeping, and working from lists. It harnesses my OCD tendencies in a positive way, takes away the stress of tracking the multitudinous details of daily life, and gives me a nice little shot of dopamine when I check off an item.

Yet little did I suspect the true power of lists, until an article in the New Yorker opened my eyes. It’s a bit long, and a little rough going through the medical patches–at least for those of us who aren’t former ER nurses and/or who recently had a traumatic hospital experience–but it’s also fascinating (especially the discussion of the Checklist that Beat the Nazis–no, really!) You won’t be able to stop reading it until the end, and once you’ve read it, I’ll bet you start thinking about the power of lists in a whole new light.

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5 Responses to The Power of Lists

  1. Ramona says:

    I’ll put reading about lists on my list. Maybe it will make me a believer in lists. In the meantime something I’m definitely putting on my list is to enjoy Gillian Anderson as the host of Masterpiece Theatre in the New Year – and all those Jane Austen showings!
    As of last night, I now have Cold Comfort Farm on my DVR. So funny I had just thought about it for the first time in ages a few days ago and there it showed up on tv last night! I’m so psychic!

  2. kaizerin says:

    Ooh, who needs TV Guide when you’ve got paranormal TV-scheduling abilities? 🙂 I LOVE the movie of CCF; it may be time for me to rewatch it, too.

    I saw the news about G. Anderson/J. Austen on Masterpiece and thought, “Good TV coming in the Spring–woo!” I should set a series recording for it. With any luck, they’ll re-air Bleak House before the new series starts up–I still haven’t seen it.

  3. modhran says:

    The article was very interesting. It made me think that if we were ever to have National health care that they might be able to institute a checklist system nationwide, it’d be medicine by numbers, but if it works, so much the better.

  4. CAS says:

    With a view from the nursing side: The moments that Life Flight lands or the doors to the ambulance bay open have been some of the most terrifying of my life. After that moment, you either go onto auto-pilot and follow your script and apply logic to the curve balls. ACLS and Code checklists were a staple for me- but you always had to allow for improv. Simple things like someones weight, what they had taken, the mechanism of injury, etc- all came together to often form unique challenges. Checklists can get you there, but I would still maintain that it about expereience.

  5. kaizerin says:

    What I took from the article, Bear, is that in the course of these high-pressure, life-or-death situations, the medicos are improvising brilliantly, but then undercutting their work by forgetting the basics. They’re not thinking “Did I cover basic hygiene?” while they’re inventing crazy new ways to revive people, such that even when the new procedure succeeds, something as simple as line infection comes along and takes out the patient anyway.

    It’s really hard to be simultaneously persnickety about details AND creative/imaginative. That’s why we don’t brainstorm and build project plans in the same session. We can focus on the trees, or the forest, not both at once. So what the checklist does is help the surgeon cover the routine details without dis-engaging the creative, “How’m I gonna save this guy?” part of the brain.

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