Healthcare Industry News:  bar-coded surgical sponge 

Devices Surgery

 News Release - May 5, 2008

New Study Finds Bar-Coded Surgical Sponges Improve Patient Safety

Computerized Sponge-Counting Systems Reduce Risk of Retained Sponges

LOS ANGELES--(HSMN NewsFeed)--A randomized controlled trial conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital - in affiliation with Harvard Medical School - finds bar-coded, computer-assisted surgical sponge counting systems reduce the chance of counting errors during patient surgery by a factor of 3 to 1.

The results of the study – conducted by patient safety researchers Dr. Atul Gawande and Dr. Caprice Greenberg - were published recently in the Annals of Surgery (Ann Surg 2008;247: 612-616). An article summarizing the study results entitled “Bar-Coding Surgical Sponges To Improve Safety: A Randomized Controlled Trial” can be found at

Previous studies have shown that counts are falsely reported as correct in the majority of cases of retained sponges and instruments, resulting in the surgical team incorrectly believing that all the sponges are accounted for. The Boston study was based on 300 general surgery operations and showed that using a bar-coded surgical sponge system during surgery detected over ten times more counting errors than traditional counting methods in cases where sponges were misplaced or counted incorrectly.

“Leaving surgical sponges inside patients happens more often than people think and far more often than it should,” said Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a co-author of the study. “Surgical teams have been seeking a solution to this problem for decades and this trial of a computer-assisted method of counting surgical sponges gives us reason to believe a viable, proven and cost-effective solution has at last been found."

Study Validates System Developed By SurgiCount Medical

“It’s estimated that 3,000 to 5,000 cases of retained surgical sponges occur every year, and that’s simply not acceptable,” says Bill Adams, CEO of SurgiCount Medical, a division of Patient Safety Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:PSTX ) and the leading manufacturer of bar-coded surgical sponge counting systems today.

“This study clearly validates internal studies of our Safety-Sponge™ System and confirms the results our customers have seen in the field,” Adams added. “With its introduction to hospitals almost two years ago, the Safety-Sponge™ System has been used in at least 80,000 procedures without incidence of one retained sponge. I’m confident this study will help persuade medical institutions nationwide to update their sponge-counting methodologies, help eliminate ‘false correct’ counts that lead to retained items, and finally eradicate this needless risk to their patients and to themselves.”

SurgiCount’s Safety-Sponge™ System consists of individually bar-coded surgical sponges and a portable scanner that enhances traditional hand sponge counts. The system is used by healthcare institutions around the country, including The University of San Francisco Medical Center, University of Florida Shands, Loyola University Health Center, Chicago, and Integris Health System, among many others.

About Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a 747-bed non-profit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare, an integrated healthcare delivery network. The facility is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on human diseases, involving more than 860 physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by more than $416 million in funding. For more information, visit

About SurgiCount Medical

SurgiCount Medical, Inc., a division of Patient Safety Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB:PSTX ), manufacturers the SurgiCount Safety-Sponge™ System, a patented FDA 510k approved turn key solution to retained surgical sponges. The system is comprised of surgical sponges and towels affixed with an inseparable two-dimensional data matrix bar code and a SurgiCounter scanner to record each sponge before and after an operation. The SurgiCount Safety-Sponge™ System is also the only retained sponge prevention system to offer complete sponge inventory tracking, reporting features and integration with a medical facility’s IT system. For more information, contact SurgiCount at (951) 587-6201, or visit

Source: SurgiCount Medical

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