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Retained Foreign Objects (RFOs) are an avoidable complication in the OR.

Retained Foreign Objects (RFOs) are an avoidable complication in the OR.

08/24/2017 - Salem, MA - Retained Foreign Objects (RFOs) are an avoidable complication in the OR.

The OR can be a hectic and stressful environment, even when everything goes as intended.  With so much going on, however, serious complications can result from a simple and avoidable error.  One of the most avoidable complications is Retained Foreign Objects (RFOs).

The government estimates that the number of RFOs is around 3000 cases a year.  Independent research groups and government data show the number to be close to twice that amount*.  Regardless, RFOs represent a very real concern for patients, physicians, and hospital administrators.  It is also estimated that retained surgical sponges account for more than 66% of the annual RFO cases. Therefore, having a standard method and the appropriate tools for counting surgical sponges is a necessity in the OR. 

Improvements in both counting technique and sponge design help reduce time and risk in the OR.  Looking specifically at cranial and spine surgery, the use of radiopaque sponges is essential in providing additional security, in the rare instance that there is a discrepancy in the sponge count.  With these sponges, a post-operative x-ray can help locate a missing sponge or confirm that there is no sponge left behind.  Furthermore, radiopaque sponges designed specifically for cranial and spine surgery also come on a counting card that makes the job of the OR nurse easier.  With each slot on the card containing a single sponge and each slot being numbered 1-10, a simple check of the card can show how many sponges were used and, as a result, how many need to be located prior to closing. 

At American Surgical Company, we have taken that card design a step further.  Traditional cards are smaller, use a small font, and lie flat on the tray in the OR.  ASC’s novel and revolutionary standing card makes the act of counting surgical sponges even easier.  A large font allows for a clear view of the number of patties used and, by having the card stand on the tray, the numbers are less likely to be obscured by other instruments, providing a constant and clear view for the OR nurse of the number of patties being used in the procedure.

ASC’s unique winding card is used on all of ASC’s products with identification threads, helping the nurse count regardless of the surgeons’ sponge preference.

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*Data reported in USA Today, "What surgeons leave behind costs some patients dearly", 03/08/2013,

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