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Does anyone know „where the surgical sponge is“ – these are not usually words of a surgeon, but unfortunately individual cases from routine clinical practice suggest they can be. Estimates indicate that one in 18 760 unintentionally operations results in a utensil remaining in the patient’s body. The range is impressive, and shows that there probably is no reliable data and a large amount of unreported cases.

U.S. insurance companies are even assuming that every 1,500 operations result in something being forgotten. Two studies from the past decade show that in up to 68% of these cases, foams, abdominal swabs and dressings that were applied have remained.

Commentary: The solution to this problem lies in the labelling of all foreign objects brought into the patient’s body. For this purpose, several techniques are available now, that offer different levels of detection rates. In perioperative X-ray or ultrasound, the rate is 95%, so with the help of bar codes 98% of foreign bodies are detected. The highest level of reliability for this are said to be through RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. Here, according to a study, a detection rate of 100% can be achieved. Manufacturers of this technique have to win on the basis of these findings for innovative clinics.

[ilink url=““] Link zur Quelle (Ärzte Zeitung)[/ilink]