A Smarter Way to Detect Sponges
There are people walking around right now with sponges inside them. And maybe more people than you would think. A published study has indicated that as many as one in anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 intra-abdominal surgeries result in sponges being left behind in patients. Along with the potential health risks, these “lost” sponges also create professional nightmares for surgeons and hospitals.
Realizing these occurrences are closer to all-too-common problems than freak accidents, a Pittsburgh company has devised a more efficient solution. ClearCount Medical Solutions has invented a management system that is capable of both counting and detecting surgical sponges. ClearCount’s SmartSponge® System consists of three distinct components: a computer with an attached collection basket (pictured), a SmartWand(TM) scanning device, and RFID-tagged surgical sponges. RFID stands for radio-frequency identification and, in this case, it entails small transponders embedded in the sponges. By reading these transponders, the computer indicates to surgeons how many of the sponges registered for a surgery are “in” use at any time. As sponges are used and discarded, they are tossed into the collection basket where the computer marks them as “out”. At the end of a surgery, if the computer still indicates any sponges are “in”, an individual can run the SmartWand over the patient. If a sponge has been left in the surgical site, the wand will beep as it passes over it. pittsburgh seo company
For surgeons and nurses, the SmartSponge System could provide an easier, more convenient means of tracking sponges. While it may add an additional piece of equipment to already-overcrowded operating rooms, the SmartSponge brochure indicates that the system was designed to augment current OR practices without adding additional hassle or delays. Like a lot of new technologies, the SmartSponge System offers a more finite way to keep track of things. It helps eliminate human error by reducing the role of surgical staff in the sponge-tracking process. Counts can be confirmed quickly, reducing time spent accounting for sponges, and the SmartWand eliminates the need for X-rays to locate lost ones. Of course, the most important benefit of the SmartSponge is that it helps to ensure patient safety.
While most of us may think left-behind surgical sponges occur only on medical shows like “Grey’s Anatomy”, they actually happen enough in real life that TV writers take note. Though the percentage may be low, why shouldn’t hospitals take every precaution necessary to make that percentage even lower? After all, from the patient’s perspective, there is probably nothing more frustrating and infuriating than getting a post-surgical infection as the result of a forgotten sponge. That’s why many of these incidents result in PR disasters for hospitals. And, it is believed, hospitals will soon no longer be reimbursed for costs related to lost sponges by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), along with many private insurers. At this point, thinking ahead and being proactive only makes sense.