Retained surgical sponges are a big problem. Despite designation as a "never event," retained items are estimated to occur in one of every 1,000 to 1,500 abdominal surgical procedures. Human counting error is the most common cause of unaccounted-for sponges being left behind. Studies attribute falsely correct sponge counts mainly to team fatigue, difficult or long operations, sponges "sticking together," shift changes or procedures with a large number of sponges.
Miscounts are costly and require timely actions needed to rectify the discrepancy (recounts, post X-rays, etc). Retrieving a sponge can cost hospitals an average of $63,000 in follow-up operation expenses (according to Federal Register and Medicare statistics) per incident, not including legal fees and potentially large settlements.
The SmartWand-DTX™ and SmartSponge® System uses a technology featuring chip-embedded sponges to count and locate sponges during surgery which, in turn, helps eliminate surgical errors and improve patient safety. The SmartSponge System can read and record the unique ID number of each sponge as it comes out of its packaging in the OR, as it is used in the patient, and as it is removed and disposed of. Both the SmartSponge and SmartWand-DTX count multiple sponges and read through blood and tissue, and they can locate a missing tagged sponge using radio waves to signal the RFID tag to identify itself, giving surgeons and operating room teams a new tool to prevent the anxiety of a potentially devastating operating room error.