Imagine after having a surgery meant to improve your health you feel worse. After much investigation it is determined a mistake was made during the operation, and a sponge was left inside of your body. Such surgical mistakes are more common than many may expect, and may result in serious health complications. A new technology is now being used at the Mayo Clinic Health System which aims to prevent sponges from being left inside of patients.
In most operating rooms someone counts the sponges to help ensure all of those used in the body during a procedure are then removed. Now at the Mayo Clinic, a scanning device called the Surgi-Count is also used to minimize human error and help ensure the sponge count is reliable.
The Surgi-Count scanning device works similar to a scanner at a store, and is used to scan the bar code found on each surgical sponge. A person still manually counts the sponges as well, but redundancy is used to further minimize errors.
One physician explained the importance of the new device, "Humans aren't perfect we can make mistakes. Surgeries are so much more complex nowadays, dozens and dozens of sponges can be used in a single case."
A sponge left in a patient can have serious consequences. It can result in infections, the need for additional operations and potentially long term disability. Those who experience a sponge or other surgical implement being left inside their body have a right to seek compensation for their injuries.
Source: KEYC, "New Scanning Device Helps Eliminate Surgical Errors," Brittany Larson, Mar. 17, 2012.