“Sponges being left behind is the
number one contributor to the number one surgical never event, which
is retained surgical items,” says Jason
Davies, senior brand manager with
Stryker Surgical Safety.
According to research cited by Davies, surgical sponges are left inside
of patients approximately 4000 times
per year, which translates to 11 incidents per day. There is a 4. 5 percent
mortality rate when a sponge is left
behind, and a permanent injury is the
outcome 16. 3 percent of the time.
These are the daunting numbers
Stryker had in mind when they ac-
Preserving the bar code through-
out the rigors of different procedures
is especially important.
“The design of the SurgiCount
sponge incorporates a hydrophobic layer on the barcode that wicks
away fluids and blood, ensuring
maximum readability before and after
use,” says Nate Miersma, director
of surgical safety at Stryker. “We’ve
seen countless real-life tests done
by nurses during clinical trials where
a sponge is intentionally soaked and
coated with the worst types of fluid.
The labels still repel the fluid very
effectively and are able to be read by
the SurgiCount scanners and tablets
While SurgiCount is a tool that can
be used by the entire surgical team,
Stryker sees it as a particular boon for
nurses in the OR.
“Right now, the nurses have a
deficit of technology,” Davies observes.
“They use a whiteboard and a marker
on the wall inside the operating room,
but they don’t have anything else. And
they’re doing all these different things
— multi-tasking, multiple shift changes,
they have high BMI patients and emer-
According to Davies, the abun-
dance of challenging tasks and corre-
sponding diverted attention make the
argument in favor of adding another
mechanism for tracking surgical
The tool tells the nurse in real time
whether the sponge count is correct
or incorrect, shifting the question at
the end of the case from “Is my count
By Daniel Seeger, Editor
With the SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System, Stryker aims to help
healthcare facilities put an end to retained surgical sponges.
quired the SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System.
SurgiCount doesn’t take the
place of the old fashioned practice
of keeping a tally of sponges in
the OR. The tool is meant to be
supplemental, verifying a manual
Sponges tagged with a code are
scanned into the system as part of
surgical prep and then scanned out
when they are removed from the
surgical field during an operation.
If they’re not all accounted for at
the end, there’s a problem to solve
before sewing up.
The “Count In” screen begins the process of tracking sponges for the OR team.