Are cognitive aids just the latest trend, or will their widespread integration truly transform the level of safe patient care we deliver? In the past decade, there has been an enormous increase in use of cognitive aids in anesthesiology, particularly for perioperative emergency situations. While this idea is gaining in recent popularity, checklists in the O.R. date back at least to 1924, when Dr. Babcock asked, “Have you a plan of action so developed so that the right thing is always done … and time is not frittered away?” and suggested that “a fixed emergency routine” be “posted on the walls of every operating room and drilled into every member of the staff.” This now-landmark manuscript is referenced in many modern discussions of emergency cognitive aids. Nearly a century later, robust development of such aids as well as iterative testing and implementation strategies of such aids are being...

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