This is something that every patient considering a surgical procedure should be wary of. According to reports, in the United States alone there are almost 1,500 cases every year of surgeons accidentally leaving surgical objects inside patients. And, in most cases, it is sponges which are left behind. Sponges look similar to tissues in cases of excessive bleeding. To counter this problem, Loyola University Medical Center has started using a new technology to keep track of all sponges used during a surgical procedure.

Highlights of the new technology
a. This is a simple yet effective measure.
b. Each sponge gets a unique bar code which is fixed to it.
c. This is scanned by a high-tech device to keep count.
d. Before any surgical procedure, the patient's identification number and the badge of the surgical team member maintaining the count are scanned into the counter.
e. The bar code is heat sealed into the sponge so that it stays attached to the sponge during the procedure.
f. The counter's color screen keeps a running count of the sponges used.
g. It gives out visual and audio cues whenever a sponge is scanned in, scanned out and if one is missing or is being counted twice.
h. The procedure will end only once all the sponges are accounted for.
i. If a sponge is missing, the device will alert the surgical team about it and give information like the type pf sponge and the time it was scanned in.
j. Once the count is completed and approved the system can print, archive or download a report as backup documentation and the count.
k. This is approved by the FDA.

Source: Loyola University Health System (2007, December 9). Surgical Objects Accidentally Left Inside About 1,500 Patients In US Each Year.