20 July 2006

Beep! Beep! A Solution To Missing Sponges

You might have heard of unfortunate cases wherein the surgeon who operated on a patient forgot a surgical sponge inside the patient. Days pass and the patient complains of pain and high fever. A chance X-ray reveals an opaque material inside the patient and it turns out to be a surgical sponge. These forgotten sponges can spur life-threatening infections harmful for the patient, and of course, a medical malpractice complaint against the surgeon concerned.

Now a recent study from Stanford published in current issue of the Archives of Surgery has a great solution: RFID chips and a 1.5-pound wand-like device for detecting the chips.

Radiofrequency ID (RFID) chips are those chips stealthily embedded in books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, and other products which you might be familiar with which cause tall pillar-like detectors located in the doorways of some shops to beep loudly and expose a cunning thief or shoplifter. I'm sure you have seen one of these devices if you hang out in the malls.

Dr Alex Macario, lead author of the study is proud to say that "the device works 100 percent of the time," and can be a real solution and help for the dismal "76 percent falsely correct sponge counts" based on malpractice claim reviews related to retained foreign bodies inside operated patients.

My questions: How expensive will the RFID-tagged surgical sponges cost? When will these be available?

4 reactions:

bayibhyap said...

It's not just the sponges. Sometimes even surgical instruments are also left in the patients. So, one day there may be RFID surgical instruments too!

Dr. Emer said...

Oh yes, Bayi. Definitely. Though I wonder how much an RFID-tagged operation will cost vs. the conventional one with risks.

Tani said...

hehe... pag dating ng bill... mas mahal pa sponges na ginamit sa charge sa room... :)

bing said...

i remember an Indian woman who was diagnosed to have a surgical scissor in her stomach. i just dont know why it took her years before speaking about the discomfort and pain.