One dangerous medical error that can occur during surgery is unintentionally leaving a surgical instrument or sponge inside a patient. Every surgical item used during surgery (e.g, sponges) must be accounted for after surgery to ensure that none of these items is left inside the patient. Despite the numerous precautions in place, in approximately 1 to 1500 cases, something gets left inside the patient’s body. This project presents ASSIT, an Automated System for Surgical Instrument and Sponge tracking that increases the safety of surgical procedures. ASSIST utilizes special RFID technology to aid in accounting for all items used during surgery. The design takes in to account safety, simplicity, ease of deployment, and ease of use.
Our approach is to develop an electronic inventory that can keep track of every surgical item used during surgery. RFID is used for non-line-of-sight identification (a unique serial number for each sponge can be received by wireless means). A check-in station, a check-out station, and a patient scanner are used by OR personnel to track and/or find sponges throughout the surgery. All of these components are controlled via a software system that utilizes a color-coded interface for easy and fast assessment of the location of the items during surgery.
In the Proposed system, ASSIST provides a reliable and accurate record of the status of each surgical item throughout the surgical procedure. Human error is minimized as the system eliminates false-positive (mistakenly complete count) and reduces false-negatives (the mistaken belief that a sponge is missing). Also, Sources of error were identified, and the system was evaluated under realistic surgical conditions.