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Will new technology prevent surgical errors in Florida operating rooms?

Gauze sponges are common in operating rooms. These tools are used to soak up blood so that surgeons are able to see what they are doing. Though sponges may sound like a benefit to a patient, they can easily turn into threatening, even deadly, devices. When sponges are left inside a patient they can pierce organs and disrupt normal body functions. Since a forgotten sponge is a serious error that can occur at every hospital, Miami residents may be interested to know that a new technology has been developed that may help prevent this type of surgical error.

Right now, most surgeons must rely on their own eyes and sponge counts to determine whether or not all sponges have been removed from a patient before completing the operation. Yet, since sponges absorb blood they can easily be missed. To prevent these mishaps, some hospitals have begun to attach electronic chips to sponges. At the end of an operation, a wand is waved over the patient. The surgeon is then alerted when a sponge has been left inside a patient. This will, hopefully, ensure that all sponges have been removed before a patient's incision is closed.

Though this technology seems promising in its efforts to reduce surgical mistakes, only seven hospitals in Florida currently use the technology. This means that it is likely that sponge miscounts will continue, causing some Florida residents to face long-term medical complications or even death.

Fortunately, a medical malpractice lawsuit can help victims of surgical errors recover from injuries caused at the hands of negligent surgical personnel. The compensation that is awarded through a medical malpractice lawsuit can be used to cover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Surgery is supposed to be about making the body whole again. When surgeons are inattentive, they can make mistakes that have dire consequences. Hopefully new technologies, coupled with the threat of lawsuits, will keep surgeons and their teams attentive and patients safe.

Source: News4Jax, "Technology helping find what surgeons leave behind," July 10, 2012

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