A Medical Device Daily

Cardinal Health (Dublin, Ohio) has signed an exclusive national agreement with SurgiCount Medical (Temecula, California), a wholly owned subsidiary of Patient Safety Technologies (Los Angeles), to make available its Safety-Sponge System to hospitals and surgery centers across the country. The bar-code system is designed to help operating room staff keep track of items commonly used in surgery. Financial terms of the three-year agreement were not disclosed.

Cardinal Health will package SurgiCount's Lap sponges, gauze sponges and OR towels in its Presource surgical kits and trays. SurgiCount Medical received FDA 510(k) clearance to market its Safety-Sponge in March 2006. The SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System is the only computer-assisted system for counting sponges with FDA clearance, according to Cardinal Health.

"Ensuring patient safety is a key initiative for hospitals today and the prevention of retained objects during surgery is a critical element of that mission, said Brik Eyre, president of Cardinal Health's Presource business. "This agreement demonstrates our commitment to helping our customers deliver safe, high-quality patient care."

"The Safety-Sponge System applies 21st century technology to sponge counting to advance patient safety," said Bill Adams, CEO of SurgiCount. "The intuitive nature of the system's software and the clear and informative screens enable OR staff to be constantly aware of their sponge count, as well as providing printing, archiving and electronic downloading opportunities for documentation for the perioperative nurse."

In its recommended practices for sponge, sharp and instrument counts, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN; Denver) advises that all sponges, sharps, instruments, and materials introduced during a surgical procedure, including sterile towels used to pack viscera, should be counted for all surgical procedures. According to AORN, a primary goal of counts is to prevent foreign bodies from being retained in patients; therefore, all items introduced into patients must be accounted for.

The SurgiCount system is intended to work much like a grocery store check-out counter. Every lap sponge, OR towel or gauze sponge is thermally fused with a unique, patented bar code. Items are swiped under a scanning counter (i.e. computer assisted counting) before the procedure to obtain a count. At the end of surgery, the labels are swiped to verify the number of items. The sponge counter provides audio and visual cues, has a read-rate error of one in 240 million scans, and has the ability to print, archive and download reports at the end of each procedure.

Cardinal Health makes pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, offers a range of clinical services and develops automation products that are designed to improve the management and delivery of supplies and medication for hospitals, physician offices and pharmacies.