PRINCE GEORGE'S Md. (WUSA) -- Surgical mistakes can occur, so for those who work in the OR need to take many steps to ensure everything that goes into a patient's body-- from scalpels to sponges-- comes back out. One Maryland hospital is employing additional new technology to make sure nothing is missed.
Louis Corpin, R.N. associate vice president of surgical services says, "Sponges are saturated with blood, it looks exactly like tissue."
This means that a surgical sponge could be unaccounted for, and possibly left inside the patient after surgery.
"We don't normally have a whole lot, but one is too much. So if we have one every 5 years, or one every 4 years, that's too much. There should never be an item left behind in a patient's body," says Dr. Corpin.
Prince George's Hospital Center has added an extra safety measure by adding the RF Surgical Detection System to all their ORs. This is a small pill size radio frequency tag that is placed in all sponges. After surgery doctors wave a wand over the patient and an alarm sounds if it detects a sponge that's been left behind.
"So once we have completed our second or last count and we're missing one or two, sometimes the missing item might not be in the body, it might be in the trash so this new technology, you know by scanning the trash, we can determine if the sponge is in the trash or if it is in the patient's body," says Corpin.
This offers the patient extra peace of mind above the standard-of-care, which involves counting all surgical items individually before and after the procedure.
Hospital officials say the RF detection system also helps lower overall costs.
The sponges are just the first phase of this technology the company RF Surgical systems is working on embedding the technology into surgical instruments.
"In the end you know it is a good thing for the patient, they don't have to worry about coming back, and this is very costly for the hospital because you get into the legal aspect of this."
"This will save a whole lot of money for the patient and if the whole nation adopts this, then that will be a considerable savings to the entire health care system," says Corpin