SurgiCount Safety-Sponge Keeps Used Medical Supplies Out of Your Body

Since about a thousand sponges are left inside patients who undergo surgery each year, SurgiCount is trying to sell this "Safety-Sponge System" which uses a 2D barcode system on each sponge and a handheld scanner to keep track of every sponge utilized. It's a great idea, but since it's likely the sponges would have to be purchased from SurgiCount, it's hard to say how much cost the system would add to a busy operating room. Of course, it would only have to cost less than the malpractice payouts for those who find themselves with a rogue sponge inside their bodies, which often lead to infection or worse. Company Page [ via Oh Gizmo via 7 Gadgets]
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6 Responses to SurgiCount Safety-Sponge Keeps Used Medical Supplies Out of Your Body

  1. Anonymous says:

    As has been suggested before, this is an area where RFID tags would be perfect. Doctors could just wave a wand over the patient and be informed what devices remain behind.

    Plus, it’s an industry standard so there’s no vendor lock-in.

  2. deejayqueue says:

    I wonder why they haven’t figured out how to make a bio-degradable sponge yet. One that works for about 8-10 hours and then lets your body eat it. Or maybe I don’t know anything about medicine and this is the wrong way to look at it.

  3. cha0tic says:

    How about something like those pill packets with the days on? Or maybe an egg tray e.g.

    Take sponge out of slot/pocket/cup, use in body. remove from body put in an empty slot. End of op’ just before stitching up. Check for empty spaces in the device/tray.

    I don’t have any surgical experience, well only on the receiving end. So same question as Semiotix.

    Any surgical types out there?

  4. cha0tic says:

    Maybe it’s time for a new acronym. Similar to INAL (I’m not a lawyer) INAS (I’m not a surgeon). I think it’s traditional to follow up INAL with the word but…

  5. Bugs says:

    I’m not a surgeon or even anything similar, but surely the purpose of a sponge would be to soak up whatever fluids are oozing around your cavities. So what happens when a spot of that blood or bile obscures part of the barcode?

    I think RFID might be a good idea, provided it can stand up to being gamma irradiated during sterilisation.

  6. semiotix says:

    I’m not sure this wouldn’t cause more problems than it solves.

    I would imagine surgeons are lecture-d, seminar-ed, memorandum-ed, and otherwise COMPLETELY forewarned about the dangers of sponge-leaving and the massive slam-dunk lawsuits that follow from it. It happens anyway because you can always have a careless moment.

    If you can remember to record a sponge going in infallibly (which is the assumption all this rests on), you can remember to take it out infallibly–and if that were true, we wouldn’t need the device in the first place.

    Worse, I’d worry that an EXTRA sponge got recorded (inadvertent double-click or something) and that I was left open while a panicky surgeon poked around my organs looking for a non-existent sponge.

    Amirite? Any surgical types out there?

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