Nurses count sponges and surgical instruments when a procedure begins and ends, so that they are not left inside a patient. Cases of retained foreign objects are rare — occurring once in every 5,000 surgeries — discrepancies in counts happen in 13% of surgeries, according to a recent surgical study.
The mistake is one of the hospital-acquired conditions that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will stop paying for as a complicating condition later this year.
Technology is seen as offering a solution. The Mayo Clinic, is switching to bar-coded surgical sponges, which are scanned in and out. Another option is a radio-frequency identification system. Dime-sized RFID tags are embedded in the sponges, which can be tossed in a bundle into an accompanying receptacle that counts them.
Legal Analysis: We have the technology, so why not impliment them. The health care industry is notoriously slow in adopting newer technologies.