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Stryker Builds Surgical Safety Business With No-Mistakes Sponge System

Wednesday, September 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
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KALAMAZOO, MI - Medical products maker Stryker Corp. has for years produced some very high-tech devices that surgeons use to be more successful in operating rooms.

Now it is also trying to sell a relatively low-tech system that helps surgical teams avoid one of the most common operating room mistakes nationwide.

"This thing right here," says Stryker's Jason Davies, holding a 3-by-3-inch cotton gauze pad, "this soft fuzzy, fluffy thing is, in my mind, the most dangerous medical device out there because it gets left behind in patients on average 11 times a day (nationwide), 4,000 times a year."

That is considered a surgical "never" event - something that has potentially deadly health ramifications, is wholly preventable, and should never happen.

"So Stryker is building a new business, a new division, called Surgical Safety right now," said Davies, who is senior brand manager in surgical sales for Stryker Corp.'s Instruments Division.

A key product for the Surgical Safety business is its SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System, a product acquired in Stryker's April 2014 acquisition of Irvine, Calif.-based SurgiCount Medical Inc.

The system uses sterile bar-coded sponges and a computer tablet loaded with proprietary software to ensure that all sponges are tracked. After approximately 11 million surgical procedures over the last five years, which involved the use of more than 200 million sponges, the system boasts zero sponges left behind.

"The successful implementation of SurgiCount at more than 550 hospitals nationwide demonstrates a growing trend toward hospitals using technology to strengthen patient-safety protocols," Nate Miersma, director of surgical safety at Stryker Surgical, stated in a press release. "SurgiCount can help protect a hospital's patients, staff and bottom line by significantly reducing the risk of the most common surgical error, retained sponges."

SurgiCount was a start-up idea from a urology surgeon.

"When he was going through a grocery store at night, he saw that milk, eggs, butter, the things he was buying, were getting better inventory tracking than the devices that were going in and out of his patients," Davies said. "So that was the genesis of bar-coding a surgical sponge. We give the sponge the same characteristic as you do items you scan at the grocery store."

He said sponges and other items have typically been scanned and inventoried when they are delivered to a hospital. But after a package of sponges was delivered to an operating room area, hospitals typically stopped tracking them.

The Safety-Sponge System requires them to be scanned when they are unpackaged and used in the operating room, and after they are removed from a patient. Each sponge has a data matrix tag -- a square, two-dimensional bar code.

"You can see it has an alpha-numeric number underneath it," Davies said. "That way if the SurgiCount tablet is telling a nurse, 'Hey you have a sponge inside a patient,' it can actually tell them specifically, you have sponge JA5GXY."

Since it acquired SurgiCount, Stryker has grown the number of hospitals using the system from about 300 to about 550. Among them is Bronson Methodist Hospital, which has been using the system for a little less than two years.


Read the full article here.

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