With the help of a little yellow box, international non-profit Lifebox has been making surgery safer for millions of patients throughout the world. Founded in 2011 by four of the world’s leading medical organizations with surgeon and writer Atul Gawande as its chairperson, Lifebox’s sole mission is to improve surgical safety in low-resource countries by providing the tools and education needed to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist. As it celebrates its 10-year anniversary, this simple checklist, which can be completed in under two minutes, has been shown to reduce surgical complications and deaths by one-third.
For the past seven years, Lifebox’s primary goal has been to ensure that no surgery be performed without a pulse oximeter, the only instrument included on the WHO checklist and one critical for preventing anesthesia-related deaths through the monitoring of blood oxygen levels during sedation. However, the cost of the device and the difficult conditions in many of the world’s operating rooms (ORs) make traditional pulse oximeters unusable and unavailable in an estimated 77,000 ORs worldwide. To overcome this obstacle, Lifebox developed a rugged, battery-operated, low-cost pulse oximeter. With 18,000 Lifebox oximeters distributed to date, this little yellow box has made surgery safer for 10 million patients in more than 100 countries.
But an instrument alone cannot save lives without clinicians properly trained to use it. The nearly 150 training sessions conducted with anesthesia clinical teams and a variety of education and communication tools created for Lifebox by health advertising agency precisioneffect have been key to the success of the pulse oximeter program.
Expanding that communications effort, Lifebox will be launching the “Deadliest Conditions” campaign as the American College of Surgeons (ACS) holds its 2018 Clinical Congress in Boston starting October 21st.
“Good communication is the linchpin of a successful surgical team. It’s the key pillar of the checklist. And communicating the global impact of Lifebox to health care professionals in the U.S. is critical to sustaining that work,” says Atul Gawande, MD, Lifebox chairperson, famed surgeon, writer and newly appointed CEO of the non-profit healthcare venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase to deliver better outcomes, satisfaction, and cost efficiency in care. “With our longtime partner, precisioneffect, we’ve developed the “Deadliest Conditions” campaign to raise awareness of the challenges our colleagues in low-resource countries confront each day—and the solutions. No surgical team should have to worry about whether they will have a functioning light or oxygen monitor or sterilization equipment when they go into the OR. These are system diseases. Lifebox provides a cure.”
This is the first initiative in the organization’s history aimed at raising awareness among American healthcare professionals about global efforts to improve surgical safety procedures in low-resource countries. Lifebox will also be holding a panel discussion at the ACS Clinical Congress meeting in Boston led by Gawande to celebrate the 10thanniversary of the WHO surgical safety checklist.
“The Deadliest Conditions campaign was created to illuminate the societal ills that hamper the best efforts of medical professionals in resource-poor countries. The campaign offers up previously unseen conditions, like ‘deoxygenosis’ and ‘unsterilitis,’ that arise when surgeons and anesthesiologists don’t have the simplest tools that are foundational to every OR in the U.S. We’re hoping the nation’s medical professionals will join our effort to eradicate these conditions,” says Deborah Lotterman, precisioneffect chief creative officer.
precisioneffect is committed to working with companies who are changing the standard of care and in many cases are using ground-breaking innovations to do so.
“With Lifebox, we’re hoping to change the standard of care in environments where the standards that are foundational to medicine in much of the world haven’t been achieved due to greater ills like war, poverty and corruption. Everyone deserves the right to go into surgery believing the medical team has the basic tools to do their best,” Lotterman adds.
In addition to its pulse oximeter, Lifebox is also developing a low-cost, low-resource-adapted surgical headlamp as an extension of the CLEAN CUT Protocol it created to identify the causes and find methods for preventing surgery site infections.