BACKGROUND Better education of clinicians is expected to enhance patient safety. An important component of education is adherence to standard protocols, which are mainly available in written form. Believing in the potential power of videos, we hypothesized that the introduction of an educational video, based on an institutional standard protocol, would foster adherence to the protocol. METHODS We conducted a prospective intervention study of 425 anaesthesia procedures and teams (202 pre-video and 223 post-video) involving 1091 team members (516 pre-video and 575 post-video) in seven individual operating areas (with a total of 30 operating rooms) in a university hospital. Failure of adherence to safety-critical tasks during rapid sequence anaesthesia inductions was assessed during systematic on-site observations pre- and post-introduction of an educational video demonstrating evidence-based and best practice guidelines. RESULTS The odds for failure of adherence to safety-critical tasks between the pre- and post-intervention period were reduced, odds ratio 0.34 (95% confidence interval 0.27-0.42, P<0.001). The risk for failure of adherence was reduced significantly for eight of the 14 safety-critical tasks (all P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS This study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of an educational video to enhance adherence to a standard protocol during complex medical procedures. The introduction of a video can reduce failure of adherence to safety-critical tasks and contribute to patient safety. We recommend the introduction of videos to improve protocol adherence.