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What's happening to prevent sponges from being left in patients?

If there was a way to make sure nothing would be left behind during surgery, you'd want to make sure you implemented those procedures. The good news is that there is a new way to avoid leaving sponges in patients. The company Stryker has built a surgical safety system that has "no-mistake" sponges.

These no-mistake sponges are difficult to leave in a patient because they're barcoded. Each sponge is tracked when it enters and comes out of a patient's body. This makes sure that all the sponges come out. This system, which has a "no sponge left behind" model, boasts that zero sponges have been left in patients over the course of 11 million procedures and over five years.

Although you may not think of sponges as a dangerous surgical tool, they can lead to problems if they're not removed from the body. Worse yet is that sponges get left behind in patients around 11 times a day on average. Sometimes, these sponges end up causing problems that require further surgery.

Why do they get left behind? The science is simple: They absorb blood and blend in. It's hard to track sponges without technology in place to do so, and that's why this business stepped in. Each sponge is scanned when it's unpacked in the operating room. Then, they're scanned again as they're removed from the patient.

Medical errors are a major concern among patients and hospitals alike. This is just one way that you can be safer during surgery and that your medical provider can make sure he or she is providing the best possible experience.

Source: M Live, "Stryker builds surgical safety business with no-mistakes sponge system," Al Jones, accessed Jan. 16, 2018

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