Michigan firm looks to prevent common surgical 'never events'

There are certain things that should never happen in an operating room. Because of how often such things do happen, patient safety advocates have launched major efforts in recent years to put policies and processes in place to prevent these so-called "never events" from ever occurring. According to many experts, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Those in Michigan with experience looking out for the rights of patients know that a particular problem during surgery is that sometimes items get left behind. Statistically speaking, the most common of these items is the surgical sponge. If you don't think this issue is significant, think again. Experts know that sponges left in a patient's body can cause painful and even deadly infections.

A technological response

In a time when we are able to put tracking chips in our pets and our children so that we never lose them, you would think that it should be a simple thing to find a way to track used sponges in operating theaters. But for some reason, the adoption of simple technologies has been slow. But there are signs that things are changing.

A Michigan company recently launched a new business division dedicated to surgical safety, and one of its first products features a system that provides a computerized way to make sure that any sponges that go into a patient are pulled out before an operation ends.

The firm says more than 200 million of the sterile bar-coded sponges have been used in about 11 million procedures over the last five years and not one has been lost in that time. That's compared with data showing that sponges are left in patients across the country at an average rate of 4,000 per year.

This is only one solution for an array of problems that hospital operators know exist. Hopefully the application of such simple technology won't take long to spread. Unfortunately, surgical errors will continue to happen, and victims of such neglect, wherever they are in the country, should be ready to consult a skilled attorney to be certain of their rights and their options for seeking compensation.

Source: MLive.com, "Stryker builds surgical safety business with no-mistakes sponge system," Al Jones, Sept. 13, 2017

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