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RFID to prevent loss of surgical sponges inside patients

Darren Murph
07.19.06
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We always said those sophisticated tracking tags had to be good for something other than data processing and jazzing up passports, and as the list of applications continues to grow, a study at Stanford University is showing how RFID chips can be used to potentially save lives. 1 out of 10,000 surgery survivors will experience the misfortune of having a foreign object remain in them after they're all sewn up, and nearly 67% of those remnants are surgical sponges. The traditional tracking system (eyes and careful counting) has failed enough times to cause 57 deaths since 2000, definitely not something you want to hear when you're going under the knife. Researchers have determined that tagging sponges (and other supplies) with RFID tags allows for a chip-reader to scan the body and detect any remaining, erm, used paraphernalia, yet to be removed. Volunteer-led studies have shown a perfect success rate in discovering leftovers thus far, and hopes are to have every instrument in the OR RFID'ed. This may make a few folks queasy, but we're all for keeping our innards a sponge-free environment.

In this article: chips, health, RFID, sponges, wireless
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