Wand Finds Tools Left in Following Surgery

Posted on March 25, 2010

Medical malpractice in Florida and throughout the United States can involve a host of mistakes — from over medicating to under-diagnosing and wrong-site surgeries. Occasionally medical devices are left in patients that can cause months, even years of mysterious complications, even death.

Now a medical device company has a new way to search for objects unintentionally left behind in patients during surgery. Made by RF Surgical Systems of Bellevue, Washington, the RF Surgical Detection System uses a wand to scan for any device remaining in a patient, no matter what its size or consistency. That could include something as small as a grain of rice or discarded gauze and sponges. The wand is used over the patient before they are closed up, relieving medical personnel of doing an actual count of devices, sponges, and gauze.

The best guess as to how often that happens is about one incident in 8,801 cases up to 18,760, according to researchers who published a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers based their conclusion on medical malpractice claims, which could mean that they are grossly underestimated since only about one in eight who are injured by medical malpractice ever file a claim. More than 100 hospitals are reportedly using the system, at a cost of about $15 per surgery. Patients may well want to add whether a hospital is using the wand before scheduling surgery.


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