Surgical sponges and other items used during surgery should never be left in the patient, and yet retained foreign object (RFO) events continue to occur. Why? The most common identified contributing factors can be grouped into three categories: skill-based errors, communication breakdowns and trouble with tools and technologies.
Skill-based errors are often honest mistakes disguised as an incorrect action, missing a step or improper technique. These errors occur during routine tasks, such as jotting down the count of sponges used during a procedure and noting an eight instead of a nine.
Communication breakdowns occur when information about surgical objects placed on the surgical field isn’t shared effectively or isn’t confirmed among surgical team members Finally, breakdowns involving tools and technologies designed to confirm manual counts include failures associated with inadequately designed or outdated platforms that no longer function as they should.
The one thing these factors have in common is that most are preventable, as long as you work to improve your counting processes. With that in mind, here are three ways to help prevent RFO events from occurring in your OR.