Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects
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Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects. Is it possible to achieve and maintain zero retained foreign objects with manual and human systems alone?. Problems with manual/human systems. Drift Distraction Human error Not everything is counted

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Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects.

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Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects

Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects.


Technology adjuncts to preventing retained foreign objects

Is it possible to achieve and maintain zero retained foreign objects with manual and human systems alone?


Problems with manual human systems

Problems with manual/human systems

  • Drift

  • Distraction

  • Human error

  • Not everything is counted

  • At least 88% of retained sponges had a “correct count”


Technical adjuncts

Technical adjuncts

  • Bar-coded sponges: augmented count

  • Radio frequency (RF): detection of sponges

  • Radio frequency (RF): augmented count + detection (RFID)


Bar coded sponges

Bar coded sponges

  • Bar code on sponge

  • Scan in/scan out

  • Message when counts don’t match

  • Mismatched counts must be reconciled manually

  • If sponge not scanned in and not removed, it will not be detected

  • Can keep a record of each sponge


Radio frequency detection

Radio frequency detection

  • A small (size of a grain of rice) RF chip in each sponge

  • Counting processes remain unchanged

  • Wand the patient prior to closure; a signal indicates presence of a sponge


Radio frequency identification

Radio frequency identification

  • An RF chip (size of a penny) in each sponge

  • Scan in/scan out

  • Message when counts don’t match

  • Wand the patient prior to closure; a signal indicates presence of a sponge

  • If sponge not scanned in and not removed, it will be detected by wanding

  • Can keep a record of each sponge


Low tech adjuncts

Low-tech adjuncts

  • Hanging sponge clips

  • Numbered sponges

  • Other?


Possible benefits of technology

Possible benefits of technology

  • Reduce/eliminate retained sponges and related equipment

  • Reduce throughput in the OR due to less time needed to “search”

  • Earlier closure of the wound

  • Fewer x-rays


Possible unintended consequences of technology

Possible unintended consequences of technology

  • Introduce new sources of error/failure

  • Systems depend on user to use them correctly

  • Introduce a false sense of security

  • Diversion of attention

  • Inadvertent use of “incorrect” sponge

  • Adding to the waste stream


Evaluating and comparing the systems

Evaluating and comparing the systems

  • There will be no randomized, double-blind comparisons: even with manual systems, retained sponges occur in the order of 10-3 (~1/8,500 cases)

  • Bar coded sponges reduce the incidence by an order of magnitude to 10-4 (~1/58,000 cases)

  • RF is at least as effective as bar coding and may be more effective

    Reference: Regenbogen, S. Surgery 2009; 145:527-35


Critical questions

Critical questions

  • What is the likelihood that the system chosen will get you to zero retained sponges?

  • What is the likelihood that the system will introduce new errors that will offset the gains?

  • What is the impact on workflow?

  • What usability issues does the system have? Is it intuitive? Does it require specialized training or technique?

  • What does the system cost?

  • What is the longevity of the system and investment: what if something better comes along next year?


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