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The use of checklists in the intensive care unit: a scoping review.

BACKGROUND: Despite the extensive volume of research published on checklists in the intensive care unit (ICU), no review has been published on the broader role of checklists within the intensive care unit, their implementation and validation, and the recommended clinical context for their use. Accordingly, a scoping review was necessary to map the current literature and to guide future research on intensive care checklists. This review focuses on what checklists are currently used, how they are used, process of checklist development and implementation, and outcomes associated with checklist use.

METHODS: A systematic search of MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases was conducted, followed by a grey literature search. The abstracts of the identified studies were screened. Full texts of relevant articles were reviewed, and the references of included studies were subsequently screened for additional relevant articles. Details of the study characteristics, study design, checklist intervention, and outcomes were extracted.

RESULTS: Our search yielded 2046 studies, of which 167 were selected for further analysis. Checklists identified in these studies were categorised into the following types: rounding checklists; delirium screening checklists; transfer and handover checklists; central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) prevention checklists; airway management checklists; and other. Of 72 significant clinical outcomes reported, 65 were positive, five were negative, and two were mixed. Of 122 significant process of care outcomes reported, 114 were positive and eight were negative.

CONCLUSIONS: Checklists are commonly used in the intensive care unit and appear in many clinical guidelines. Delirium screening checklists and rounding checklists are well implemented and validated in the literature. Clinical and process of care outcomes associated with checklist use are predominantly positive. Future research on checklists in the intensive care unit should focus on establishing clinical guidelines for checklist types and processes for ongoing modification and improvements using post-intervention data.

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