The results of a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgery (JACS) show an adjunct technology for the detection and prevention of retained surgical sponges (RSS) reduced the incidence of RSS by 93%. RSS are expensive in terms of X-rays, OR time, reduced reimbursement for hospitals, and potential liability.
It takes, on average, 20 minutes to resolve a miscount, which potentially requires the patient to spend more time under anesthesia while waiting for X-rays and/or a thorough search. Every minute of OR time is estimated to cost $62, according to RF Surgical Systems in Carlsbad, CA, which manufactures the RF Surgical Systems that was studied. RF Surgical System quotes an unnamed 2010 study in the Journal of Clinical Anesthesiology. X-rays used in the sponge count protocol impart a cost of about $285 per miscount, according to RF Surgical Systems, which quotes an unnamed 2014 study in the JACS.
Hospitals are required to submit data on retained surgical items and other “never” events to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The information is available to the public on the Hospital Compare web site. Also, retained items are one of eight events that impact hospitals’ CMS reimbursement levels. At least one insurer (Wellpoint) also requires patient quality measure before it offers payment increases.
Medical malpractice claims and legal fees related to retained surgical items can range from $150,000 to $5 million or more per incident, says RF Surgical Systems. The findings from the study detail OR efficiencies:
clinically proven to provide cost savings (OR time, X-rays) and cost avoidance (legal and reimbursement expenses) at a rate of 3.13 times implementation costs;
clinical evidence of reduction of OR time by 16 minutes per procedure, which resulted in a cost savings averaging $1,000 per procedure.
An estimated 39 U.S. cases of retained surgical objects occur weekly, says the National Center for Health Statistics. Surgical sponges account for nearly 70% of all retained surgical objects. Nearly 88% of RSS incidences occur when the counts are thought to be correct. The study can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1oHx0cu.
RF Surgical Systems, Carlsbad, CA. Phone: (855) 522-7027. Web: www.rfsurg.com/products-and-technology/products/rf-assure-detection-system.