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New Barcode System to Track Surgical Sponges


A new tracking system will be implemented later this year to help eliminate retained surgical items.

Cedars-Sinai will be fitting all medical center operating rooms, and several other procedural areas, with a new tracking system with a goal to eliminate retained surgical items (RSI).

The SurgiCount System will track sponges—the most common RSI—by scanning and recording unique barcodes on each sponge before use during a procedure. The system will then alert the surgical team if the same sponges are not scanned out before the patient leaves the operating table. Staff members will interact with the system using a touchscreen display.

"Manual processes are susceptible to potential error and can lead to a retained surgical item," said Edward G. Seferian, MD, chief patient safety officer. "It's an ongoing challenge for surgical teams everywhere. And while these instances are extremely rare, delivering world-class quality and safety to our patients demands we take advantage of the latest technology to eliminate these events altogether."

Alfonso Chicas, executive director of Perioperative Services, said that the new system would provide "supplementary support consistent with current trends to reduce the risk of human error."

"In an environment where increasingly complex procedures are being performed, including transplants and multispecialty surgical cases, we are excited to be able to provide additional support to our staff,” Chicas said.

Rollout of the new system will begin in October with initial implementation in the main operating rooms, and all sponges will be replaced with barcoded sponges in the coming weeks. Clinical staff members also will undergo hands-on training for use of the new system, with details to follow.

For more information, contact alfonso.chicas@cshs.org.