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Tech Advances Could Reduce Risk of Surgical Error Injuries

RSIs, or retained surgical items, can lead to injury and death. New technology could reduce the risk of RSI events.

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From emergency interventions to planned procedures, those that find themselves in an operating room place a great deal of trust with surgeons and other medical professionals overseeing their care. Although many procedures go as expected, accidents can happen. One of the more frequent issues in the operating room involves RSIs, or retained surgical items.

More on RSIs

A new study published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Surgeons notes that surgical sponges are the items most often left behind after a procedure is completed. This type of surgical error occurs in approximately one out of every 5,500 to 7,000 procedures. To help put this number in perspective, each hospital is estimated to deal with two of these incidents every year.

The issue was recently addressed in an article by The Washington Post. In the piece, the reporter notes that technological advances could reduce the risk of RSIs.

Technology and RSIs

New technology, referred to as radiofrequency detection, was recently studied to see if it would help reduce the risk of a patient suffering from complications connected to RSIs. The system works by inserting a small chip into each piece of gauze. The medical personnel in charge of keeping track of items used in surgery can use a wand or mat to detect if a sponge or piece of gauze is left behind after the procedure is complete.

According to The Post, use of such technology was found to contribute to a 93 percent decrease in the number of RSIs. This is a dramatic difference, particularly in comparison to hospitals that did not use these systems. Instead, these facilities focus on counting and the use of X-rays to check for RSIs. When these techniques are used facilities reported only a 77 percent drop in RSI events.

Injuries associated with RSIs

Those who experience an RSI event can suffer from a range of injuries. For some, pain and digestive dysfunction may be an issue. Depending on the type and location of the item, infection can be a serious problem. Infection is of particular concern if the RSI is a surgical sponge.

If the problems are severe, additional surgery may be required not only to remove the retained item but also to address additional damage that may have been done while the item remained within the victim's body.

Legal counsel can help

Although mistakes happen to any professional, surgical errors can lead to additional procedures and medical bills for the patient. As a result, those who are the victims of surgical errors should consider moving forward with a medical malpractice claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve to help cover the high costs associated with these mistakes including medical bills and rehabilitation expenses.

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