Opportunities - Developing a Framework for Parent Participation in the Surgical Safety Checklist

Developing a Framework for Parent Participation in the Surgical Safety Checklist

University of Calgary



Hospitalized Canadian children who undergo surgery suffer high rates of preventable adverse events. To improve the health and outcomes of these young patients, strategies will need to focus on risk reduction in peri-operative (before and after surgery) pediatric care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Safe Surgery Checklist (SSC) is a near-universally adopted tool designed to improve team communication and decrease surgical complications. The Safe Surgery Checklist was primarily developed for adults and is not always effective for pediatric patients.

Family members are highly knowledgeable regarding their child’s medical history and values and are under-utilized team members in pediatric surgical safety. Family members do not regard surgery as routine and bring a high level of care and attention to the Safe Surgery Checklist, increasing team engagement and ensuring important information is shared. Studies suggest that parents can identify numerous preventable medical errors in hospitalized children that would otherwise be missed.

Currently, there is no defined role for parents in Canadian pediatric Safe Surgery Checklists. Our systematic review of the literature (detailed review of the existing publications on this topic) suggests that involving parents in the Safe Surgery Checklist may increase its ability to improve pediatric patient outcomes and increase family satisfaction and confidence. We have conducted pilot surveys and interviews with health care workers and parents of children undergoing surgery and these have also suggested that parent participation in the Safe Surgery Checklist would be valued by the family and the healthcare team.


With your support and input, we can develop a framework that includes parents in the pediatric Safe Surgery Checklist.  


Roles and Responsibilities

We hope to build a national patient/parent advisory group and are looking for a parent, caregiver or guardian partner with experience of pediatric surgery from each province - British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia. The study centres will be Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax.


Parent partners will:

  • Help create interview guides, surveys, and strategies to assess barriers and facilitators to such a framework through their unique perspectives and expertise.
  • Help identify and recruit other parents from their local organizations and institutions.
  • Deliver surveys and interviews that assess parents’ views and feedback on parent participation in the Safe Surgery Checklist. This can include priorities and needs of parents and the care team as well as benefits, risks, barriers and facilitators to inclusion of parents in the framework.
  • Inform data analysis, ensuring the parent’s perspectives and priorities have been included.


  • Contribute to national consensus meetings, using published evidence and parental perspectives to develop a framework for inclusion of parents within a pediatric Safe Surgery Checklist.
  • Review and help refine manuscript writing and publications.


Time Commitment

The initial study will run for one year beginning April 2020 and ending April 2021.


Advisory council members will be expected to attend the following meetings:


Meeting following preliminary analysis and prior to proceeding with full scale analysis

 One meeting from 2-4 hours long

After full analysis and prior to national consensus meeting

 One meeting from 2-4 hours long


National consensus meetings

Will take place over course of 2 days

Regularly monthly meetings to assess any barriers, troubleshoot, plan, etc.

30-60 minutes each for 12 months




You will be reimbursed for all expenses resulting from participating in this project including travel and parking.

We envisioned this as a volunteer role however would be happy to have conversations with individual partners about compensating for their time and contributions as their insight and input are invaluable to this study.


Contact Information

Interested in sharing your experiences with us or would like more information?  Please connect with us:


Ali MacRobie




Mary Brindle