Story last updated at 5/15/2013 - 1:28 pm
KETCHIKAN - In an effort to further enhance patient safety, Ketchikan Medical Center (KMC) will become the first hospital in the PeaceHealth system and the fourth facility in Alaska to implement the SurgiCount Safety-Sponge in its Operating and Delivery Rooms. The SurgiCount system provides a proven solution to prevent one of the most common surgical errors, retained medical devices. Without the system, sponges get left inside one patient in every 6,000 surgeries in the U.S.
"We want that number to be zero," said Patrick Branco, CEO of Ketchikan Medical Center. "By using this system, we intend to eliminate the chance of this happening to even one of our patients."
One early adopter of this technology was the Mayo Clinic Health Systems who installed the SurgiCount system in its Rochester clinic in 2009. Since then more than one million sponges have been scanned and not one sponge has been left behind.
Here's how the system works:
In surgeries and childbirth, a package of sponges will be used. Each wrapped package has a bar code that is scanned at the beginning of a procedure to enter the number of sponges being used into the system. When the procedure is complete, the sponges - each of which has an individual bar code - are scanned individually to make sure each is accounted for. Sponges will also continue to be counted manually, as has always been the case.
"This technology enhances our already proven counting system by adding a real-time quality measure," said OR Nurse Manager Kimm Schwartz. "KMC has a good patient safety record, so by taking this simple precaution we're making it even safer for our patients-providing them with even more peace of mind."
PeaceHealth plans to put the SurgiCount system in place in each of its hospitals over the coming months. Although a number of other hospitals in the northwest are now using the system, PeaceHealth will be the first in the region to implement the technology system-wide in all its hospitals.
As for the cost, Branco says that the bar code system "pays for itself many times over if we prevent just one retained sponge mishap for one of our patients."
"We are thrilled to add Ketchikan Medical Center and the PeaceHealth hospital system to our growing list of users who are taking the initiative to improve safety of their patients and help eliminate unnecessary costs by implementing a simple, safe and clinically-proven solution to prevent retained surgical sponges," said Brian E. Stewart, President and CEO of Patient Safety Technologies, Inc. makers of the SurgiCount Safety Spongeż system. "We are proud to support them as they stay on the forefront of healthcare and technology."