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In the future, believe it or not, near the end of a surgical procedure someone will probably waive a wand over the patient. If this had been done for a number of my clients over the years, a lot of grief and expense would have been avoided.

RFID wands would be an important safety device in Florida surgical suites. Retained sponges as a basis for a medical malpractice claim would be a thing of the past.

Will tagged sponges prevent human error

Statistics indicate that each year an estimated 1500 objects are left inside patients.

“Two-thirds of all objects left in the body cavity are sponges,” according to Alex Macario, MD, of the Stanford University Medical Center.

Macario’s study indicates that it is possible to tag sponges with RFID tags and thereby keep track of them and avoid infection, obstruction or even death. The idea is to improve accountability of each sponge used in the operation theatre.

The tagged sponges are made by Clear Count Medical Systems (Pittsburgh), and also include an RFID reader wand. All that a doctor would have to do is wave his RFID wand over the body and the reader will quickly tell you exactly which type of sponge is not accounted, its batch number and other important details.

Traditionally accounting is done by manually counting the number of sponges. But in an emergency operation theatre, all that counting go very well go out of the window when other issues take priority.

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