New surgical sponges include barcodes for tracking

Pennsylvania residents who need to undergo surgery can understandably be nervous. This nervous feeling may relate to many things from concerns about what may be discovered during an operation to medical errors that may be made in the process. While no patient wants to think about the potential of becoming the victim of medical negligence, it is important to acknowledge the reality.

When it comes to surgeries, the vast majority of mistakes may include having surgical sponges left inside patients’ bodies. This can happen in as many as 70 percent of surgical errors which are found to happen once every 5,500 operations. More than four percent of patients who have these sponges left in them end up dying. Another 16 percent suffer lifelong injuries.

A company that manufactures a variety of medical equipment is now producing sponges that have barcodes embedded in them. The goal with these new sponges is to improve the trackability and reduce the chance that they will be left in patients after surgeries are complete. One Michigan-based health system has eliminated the problem of sponges in patients post surgeries thanks to the use of these barcode devices. It has eliminated the need to rely on manual counting of pieces of equipment which can increase the chance for errors to be made.

When a person in Pennsylvania finds out that an operation is needed, getting information up front about the procedure is always important. So too is being prepared to talk with an attorney afterwards if any problems are experienced or suspected.


Source: Healthcare Finance News, “Damages from left-behind surgical tools top billions as systems seek end to gruesome errors,” Jeff Lagasse, May 6, 2016


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