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A Louisiana Hospital may have avoided a lawsuit with the use of the RF (radio-frequency) Surgical Detection System in an addition to any safety measures already in place during surgical procedures.

A man filed a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that a doctor left a sponge inside his body following an operation to remove colon cancer.  The suit states that after surgery the plaintiff developed a fever followed by substantial drainage and then swelling and bloating in the right abdomen. Upon returning to the hospital, a scan of his body disclosed the sponge left inside.  The suit alleges that the doctor failed to properly count every surgical instrument during and after the surgery and adequately assess post-operative infection, and the hospital failed to put in place and implement safe policies and procedures to prevent such mistakes.

Leaving a sponge or surgical tool in a patient’s body is a common surgical error; research indicates that this happens in the U.S. on average 3000 times per year.  Such mistakes can be easily avoided simply by counting; staff members keep track of sponges and instruments that go into a patient, manually count them, and repeatedly count during surgery. Then, these counts are reconciled before closure. But, obviously, a “counting system” is highly subject to human error. Additionally, the sponges are colorless and could be placed in cavities, cracks and crevices of the body. Distractions and miscounts can also factor into the counting process.

A high-tech tool, called the Blair-Port Wand, created by RF Surgical Systems, is helping surgeons avoid medical mistakes.  It is a “wand-and-tag system” that confirms manual counts while quickly rectifying miscounts.  With the wave of a wand, medical staff can safely and accurately read through deep cavity tissue, fluids and bone to detect if any radio frequency tagged surgical sponges, gauze or towels remain in a patient prior to wound closure.  If an object fitted with a tag is present, an audible and visual alarm immediately sounds.  The additional procedure takes less than one minute to perform and cost less than $15 per surgical case.  Isn’t that a cost-effective investment for improving patient safety?

Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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