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Surgical Tools to Include RFID

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-just-remember-to-use-the-wand dept.

272

andrewman327 writes "Reuters is reporting that hospitals are considering embedding RFID tags in surgical tools to prevent leaving them in patients. After closing a patient, doctors would wave a receiver over the body to look for the chips which would indicate that something was left inside. The biggest current stumbling block is the chip's size, though scientists hope they will continue shrinking as the state of the art advances."

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272 comments

A better idea... (5, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744932)

After closing a patient, doctors would wave a receiver over the body to look for the chips which would indicate that something was left inside.

I have a better idea.

Before closing a patient, doctors would wave a receiver over the body to look for the chips which would indicate that something was left inside.

The timing would be a little better, don't you think?

Re:A better idea... (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744954)

Why not just implant the receiver wand inside the patient? Then you can wave the scalpels over it. Or something.

Re:A better idea... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744988)

This won't stop bits of surgical gauze being left beind. Can't chip them?

Re:A better idea... (2, Insightful)

955301 (209856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745003)

You'd think; however, the doctor needs tools to close you back up. If one of these tools is lost during the process and after the check, we're back to the same problem.

Re:A better idea... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745022)

Good point!

Perhaps a check at both points would be in order.

Cotton! Cotton!

Re:A better idea... (1)

955301 (209856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745046)

The first check would be redundant then, and the process probably already includes a visual check.

Re:A better idea... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745184)

The first check would not be redundant because it still provides a chance to find an instrument without having to reopen the patient. Of course you have a visual check, but it can miss things--obviously, since instruments are left in patients. However, it's possibly not practical because you'll pick up the RFID chips on the instruments used in closing. Maybe if you had an RFID scan that differentiated between instruments that stayed in while closing and those that don't...

CHris Mattern

Re:A better idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745027)

Is this really that common an occurrence?
For the price we (or our insurance companies) pay for surgical procedures, you would expect a little more care on the part of the surgeons. Or is this just yet another technical solution to a minor and relatively rare problem that hostpital administrators are chomping at the bit to put in place so they can bump up the cost of *every* surgery?

In my mind this is about as useful as those "keyfinder" keychains from the early 80s. Remember those? you whistle or clap or whatever and the keychain beeps, thereby alerting you to the whereabouts of your precious keys.

Meh.

Re:A better idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745052)

One word: Lawsuits. It stops being a minor problem when it costs you $20 mil every once in a while.

Re:A better idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745086)

No, it's not common, but everytime it happens, it costs the hospital's insurance millions of dollars, the doctor's insurance millions of dollars, and thats not counting the rest of the hassles of malpractice suits. I'm sure by doing this they'll save some on their respective malpractice insurance premiums, and like good little captialists they'll pass that savings right along by charging patients more.

Common occurrence? (2, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745129)

I'd say it's fairly common. Common enough that I personally know 3 people who've had things left inside them.

Expect it to become more and more common as surgeons become even more painfully overworked. It's not their fault. I blame a bizarre system of high spiralling costs combined with drastic costcutting.

This may be an effective solution for leaving surgical tools behind, but that is treating a symptom instead of the root cause. Which is typical of US healthcare.

Re:A better idea... (1)

Burlap (615181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745322)

it's insanely rare... but like plane crashes, when they happen they are ALL OVER the news. that makes any procedure that will reduce it to zero a very good PR move on behalf of the hospital. This isnt so much a big deal here in the Great White North, but in the States where hospitals need to compete for patients for money, having such a system in place could make the difference in which hospital one goes to for surgery.

Re:A better idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745335)

In my mind this is about as useful as those "keyfinder" keychains from the early 80s. Remember those?

Yes. Mine fired off CS gas if I whistled "Rule Britannia", and exploded if I made a whistle of appreciation.

Re:A better idea... (1)

iezhy (623955) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745106)

Before closing a patient, doctors would

Only before is not suficient, because during various stages of "closing the patient" process, additional surgical tools are often placed inside, especialy during more complex surgeries. Also, often you cannot remove all tools from open patient - e.g. the ones that hold veins and/or arteries closed

Re:A better idea... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745300)

Hopefully, the RFID is not cracked or hacked to become a controlling access point.

Imagine the rib-cage expander turning into a rib-cracker, or a circular saw becoming a hacker.

Hmmm, slash image word/word image: concept....

Why not just count them? (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744937)

Or do what prisons do and have them outlined so they are put back in the spot they need to be in.

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745010)

How the hell do I sell chips that way? You haven't thought this thing all the way through.

KFG

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745012)

Because you can't manufacture and sell "common sense."

Seriously: take any application or tool that you manufacture or market, re-paint it (or re-style the GUI) in red, white, and shades of chrome, stick a friggin' caduceus [american.edu] in the upper right hand corner, then sell it into the Medical Industry as being "expressly configured for Doctors," jack up the price by a factor of SEVEN, and watch 'em fly outta your warehouse.

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745061)

You're trusting the counting ability of the same industry that spawned health insurance and HMOs, and tacks an extre $30 to your bill if you ask for a Tylenol?

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

queequeg1 (180099) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745162)

They do count them. Usually multiple times by different people. However, eventually someone will screw up (especially during a marathon operation lasting many hours).

One of the very first issues I had to deal with as a new attorney working in-house for a hospital were the hysterical parents of a patient who was going to have a "retained sponge" removed a few weeks after a C-section. Don't get me started on how screwed up that term is ("that crafty patient tried to steal a sponge by retaining it in her uterus while giving birth! The nerve of some people!"). If you've ever been through surgery before, you'll understand the importance of reducing even a very small chance of such screw ups. I would be totally pissed if I had to be cut open because someone screwed up an instrument count.

Re:Why not just count them? (2, Informative)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745212)

Not a chance: you cannot mix the bloodied, used instruments with the sterile new ones on the shelf, they have to be discarded or autoclaved, and many of them are single use or packed in sterile containers which have no tool-secific shape.

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745217)

...because after the scalpels been in your gut for the duration of the surgery I assume they dump them in a tin of some sort of strong disinfectant. You want them to neatly lay out there nice gorey used gut digging, spooning and screwing tools back on the tray?

If they did that, we'd end up with surgeons refusing to set the dinner table at home because it reminds them of work. Think of the consequences!

Re:Why not just count them? (1)

mph (7675) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745262)

If they did that, we'd end up with surgeons refusing to set the dinner table at home because it reminds them of work. Think of the consequences!
I was in the hospital over Thanksgiving one year, recovering from surgery. On Thanksgiving Day, my surgeon came in to check on her patients. I asked her if it was her job to carve the turkey for dinner. She said, "No, I'm too picky. I only use German instruments."

After? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744941)

"After closing a patient, doctors would wave a receiver over the body to look for the chips which would indicate that something was left inside."

I think it would be nice if they checked before closing me up... ya know so they don't have to cut me open again because they forgot their watch or some other random thing in me?

AFTER they close the patient? (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744943)

How about checking before you sew them up - you know - just in case you left something that you WON'T be using for that. Then you can do it agains afterwards of course.

AFTER they close the patient?-for repairs. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744979)

I'd like to know how they make that kind of mistake? It's not like there's a hell of a lot of room in there.

Anyway put the patient on a non-metallic table and run a metal detector over them.

Re:AFTER they close the patient?-for repairs. (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745000)

Anyway put the patient on a non-metallic table and run a metal detector over them.

    Doctor: "Where's the table?"
    Nurse: "It was right here under the patient, who seems to be lying on the floor... "
    Doctor: "Oh... Where shall we have lunch?"

Re:AFTER they close the patient?-for repairs. (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745008)

Pads, gauze, sponges and the like (the things most likely to be overlooked when closing up) aren't metallic.

Re:AFTER they close the patient?-for repairs. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745017)

"Anyway put the patient on a non-metallic table and run a metal detector over them."

That wouldn't work in all cases...Dr's still put a good bit of metal in people on PURPOSE...pins for broken bones, plates in skulls....

There's a lot of people out there who could go through airport metal detectors naked and set them off like crazy, or can't go have an MRI due to internal metal content...

Re:AFTER they close the patient? (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745016)

Actually, how about both. Wouldn't want the surgeon losing his needle during the sewing process.

What Happens... (5, Funny)

dduardo (592868) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744961)

What happens if they forget the reciever inside the person?

Doctor: Nurse, hand me the wand.
Nurse: Don't know where it is.
Doctor: Oh well, I'm sure I didn't leave anything inside.

Re:What Happens... (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745260)

What worries me is the guy [flickr.com] who already has an RFID tag in his left hand.

Doctor: Oh shit!, we let something in his hand!
Assistant: But Doctor! We didn't operate on his left hand, this was only a vasectomy.
Doctor: ... This was a vasectomy?

Yea but... (3, Informative)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744968)

What if the hospital forgets to put the RFID chip in the instrument in the first place. It all comes down to accountability. Just count the damn tools before and after surgery. Seems simple to me. If there was a pliers before you started, then there should probably be one after you're done.

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Yea but... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744985)

And of course it's totally impossible for the nurse who does the counting to miscount, especially after a 6-hour operation.

Re:Yea but... (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745192)

Write the number down, have 2 nurses do a count and keep counting until the numbers match, there are a million ways to prevent this sort of human error. RFID: the solution to EVERYTHING!!!

Re:Yea but... (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745255)

They often do count the number of tools used before and after. Despite counting, tools still get accidentaly left inside patients. There are a lot of tools used in a surgery. Despite hearing horror stories, this is an extremely rare occurance. There are millions of surgeries performed each year, and the number of incidents of lost tools is on the order of 2000.

Re:Yea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744997)

If my surgery was any indicator, that's not really an option.

The surgical chamber was filled with trays of tools. What looked like literally a thousand tools, like watching an accident involving a truck transporting toolkits. Those tiny trays of tools in the movies? At least 20 of those, with big meaty power tools. (as an aside, God forbid they forget an impact wrench in someone)

Now granted, my surgery was pretty specialized (jaw surgery) but certainly, they use a lot of things in any given surgery.

Re:Yea but... (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745204)

Yep. Also think about the dozens, if not hundreds of pads, sponges, gauze strips, and such that are used in an invasive surgery. Hell, if the surgery is one of those 8-12 hour marathons with 2-3 surgeons that require the use of, say, 14 pints of blood, there are possibly thousands of those items used to keep the view clear for the surgeons and nurses. Like someone can go "32. 33. 34. Ok, that's 368 gauze pads, 72 sponges, and 34 wads of gauze strips. That's everything. Lets close her up." Make it so the surgeons can go "Is that everything?" and a nurse waves the wand over the patient and says "No beep. We look good."

Re:Yea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745119)

OK, seriously, you haven't had anything really earth-shattering to say, yet here you are posting as early in the thread as you can, just so you can get some .sig lovin' ... Just like the last bunch of threads I've seen you in.

It's fucking pathetic. You have a signature section in your user profile. You aren't using it because you're just whoring for clicks. I don't want to see signatures, I don't want every fucking post to be an ad for some shitty site that's probably just another fucking blog. That's why I don't have .sigs enabled. Until I come across shit posts like this.

There needs to be a moderation entry just for fucknuts like you. -1, Sigwhore. Get over yourself and your stupid website.

(I love anonymous posting..)

Re:Yea but... (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745131)

For disposable items like sponges, the manufacturer would most likely be the one to put the RFID tags in them. I'm guessing the sponges spoken of in this artical are ones made by a local company here in Pittsburgh that recently started up to do this. Less disposable items such as clamps might be a more tricky situation. You would either need a tag that can be securely attached and easily disposed or you would need one that can survive steam sterilization.

Re:Yea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745178)

Pliers? Ouch.

Or maybe? (2, Insightful)

elzurawka (671029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744971)

they should use this [slashdot.org]
if size matter, u cant been the size of Tomato Seed. All the tools could be put down on a sensor pad, and it could tell if everything has been returned, or have a running list of what is not on the pad ATM.

Here's a better suggestion: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744973)

How about doing your FUCKING JOB PROPERLY instead of abusing technology to make up for your stupidity?

Size matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15744982)

Given the recent article (and dupe) on the grain of rice memory that transmits... wirelessly, why not use that instead of shoehorning RFID into smaller and smaller sizes?

My Dog (3, Funny)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744990)

My dog has a very small RFID that I had the Vet intentional leave in him (name, address & phone number)... now my dog is suing me for violating his rights for privacy.

Re:My Dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745088)

I should sue my dog. I have no privacy. She follows me everywhere I go and barks if I leave her somewhere.

How common is this problem... (4, Interesting)

dudeX (78272) | more than 7 years ago | (#15744994)

that we have to have use technology to prevent this from happening?
Why would surgeons (or assistants) think it's okay to leave a foreign object lying on top of an organ or tissue in the first place?! Also why is the surgeon in such a rush that s/he would be so sloppy?

Maybe this would be more appropiate for battlefield sitautions where things can get hairy, but then again, it's pretty rare to do open surgery in the battlefield!

Re:How common is this problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745063)

My Aunt had a large cloth the size of a very large napkin left inside after her abdominal surgery, the hospital quickly removed it and paid a large sum of money so it wouldnt hit the courts or worse the newspapers. So I guess it may happen more than we think.

Re:How common is this problem... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745113)

With "health maintainance organizations" ( insurance companies )
in the driver's seat, doctors feel rushed to churn out as many
patients as possible. So, I suppose they ( insurance companies
and doctors ) see this as a way to reduce costs by reducing the
time the doc spends at the table.

Re:How common is this problem... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745176)

The most common foreign body left inside a body cavity is a sponge. They get tucked behind various organs/tissues to hold things in place, absorb blood/fluids, etc, and sometimes blend in with the surrounding tissues.

Counts *are* taken of equipment, sponges, etc, but... humans make mistakes. Considering the number of surgeries performed, it's actually pretty amazing how few items get left behind. The need for the technology, however, stems from how dire the consequences can be from a mistake.

If a mechanic leaves a washer inside an engine when reassembling it, it might do some damage, but most likely no one will die.

Re:How common is this problem... (4, Interesting)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745219)

It sounds as if you're unaware that US hospitals are in a state of absolute crisis. It isn't the surgeon's fault, and it isn't their choice. They are forced to work back-to-back 14 hour shifts. Emergency rooms are having their budgets slashed, having increased business from uninsured patients who can't afford routine care, and have trouble keeping staff from the abysmal working conditions and low pay.

Here [washingtonpost.com] is a good article on the subject. It claims the ER system is on the verge of collapse.

Hardly thinking it's okay to make mistakes, these poor people are in a constant state of sleep deprived chaotic panic.

sterilization? (4, Interesting)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745014)

How rugged are RFID chips? How are they going to hold up to being heated in an autoclave for sterilization?

Mod parent up (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745148)

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only who thought that surviving the autoclave would be a much bigger challenge.

Re:sterilization? (1)

ip_vjl (410654) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745196)

They already have surgically implantable RFID chips. Vets implant them all the time. The same could be used for humans, but the reasons for doing so aren't as benign as with pets.

My concern would be (not yet having read the FA ... yeah, I know this is /.) how well the chips can be detected on/in metal equipment. The chips lose their ability to communicate in a short distance and metal seems to really cut down the ability to detect them at all.

Re:sterilization? (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745310)

They don't use steam sterilization for sponges, they use EO gas. Plus, sponges are a one use item.

The OTHER Problem (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745029)

they fail to mention is read range. As in, if the instrument is in too deep for the reader to power the module.

Most RFID just isn't right for this kind of application. Someone may figure it out though.

smaller size (1)

PW2 (410411) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745030)

If the scientists want to continue shrinking as the summary mentions, they should camp out on the space-station for a few years.

Can they take the heat? (2, Interesting)

the darn (624240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745048)

Don't they use an autoclave or some such to sterilize the instruments? Can the RFID chips take the heat, moisture and pressue invloved in that procedure?

FUD campaign. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745055)

This is plain FUD against the "RFID is evil" movement. Instead of talking about implanting RFID tags into anyone undergoing surgery for any reason, the article talks about using RFID to keep from implanting things in people. This is very simply a FUD campaign against the RFID is evil movement, and I for one am ashamed of Slashdot for falling for this "news".

Probably not the real reason (1)

foQ (551575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745075)

I suspect another reason to do this would be to prevent theft. Certain Cisco WAPs can pick up RFID so that you'd know how much of that overpriced equipment is walking out the door and can catch the hospital staff doing it. Unless, of course, they'd had an operation there before.

Re:Probably not the real reason (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745263)

This has already been proposed for pharmaceuticals: Being able to track the time that certain bottles of drugs were handled is a big deal in accountability for some very expensive medications.

Do you not think it is strange... (1)

LightningTH (151451) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745076)

That you are paying a doctor quite a bit of money for an operation due to their expertice and yet they do not know how to remove their tools? Auto mechanics seem to know how to keep from leaving a wrench inside the engine that they had in pieces.

Maybe I would be better off going to the auto mechanic for major surgery.

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745116)

Auto mechanics seem to know how to keep from leaving a wrench inside the engine that they had in pieces.

No, actually, they don't.

To date I've never lost a tool under the hood of a bicycle though.

KFG

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745135)

Ah, but the difference is that an auto mechanic usually has to buy his or her own tools.

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (1)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745141)

How do you know auto mechanics don't leave tools inside? I'd imagine often it either wouldn't matter, or they would fall out in time. Even if someone did catch one, I doubt "Mechanic left rench in engine" would make the newspaper, whereas "Doctor leaves scapel in person" does everytime it happens.

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745163)

Doctor Vs. Mechanic
Larry was removing some engine valves from a car on the lift when he spotted
the famous heart surgeon Dr. Bill Johnson, who was standing off to the side,
waiting for the service manager. Larry, somewhat of a loud mouth, shouted
across the garage, "Hey Johnson...Is dat you? Come over here a minute."
The famous surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where Larry was working
on a car. Larry in a loud voice, all could hear, said argumentatively, "So
Mr. fancy doctor, look at this work. I also take valves out, grind 'em, put
in new parts, and when I finish this baby will purr like a kitten. So how
come you get the big bucks, when you and me are doing basically the same
work?"
Johnson, very embarrassed, walked away, and said softly, to Larry, "Try
doing your work with the engine running."

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745173)

Yes, but mechanics either own their own tools, or are liable for replacing tools they lose inside engines.

Give the docs an incentive :)

Re:Do you not think it is strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15745349)

I don't think I want them reusing sponges personally.

Okay. But... (3, Insightful)

Khaed (544779) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745080)

Just count the damn instruments.

Really. Car mechanics count screws.

I count the screws when putting a computer together or doing work in it. I keep up with where each one goes.

It didn't take me over eight years of college to figure this kind of thing out.

"Okay, doctor, we used five clamps, but we only have four. We must have left one..."

Duh? I mean, hello? You're a doctor. You're getting paid more than ninety percent of the population.

Learn to count.

Re:Okay. But... (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745109)

You can count instruments but a pile of bloody sponges is much harder to count. Besides, this solution is way geekier.

Re:Okay. But... (0, Redundant)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745179)

You can count instruments but a pile of bloody sponges is much harder to count.

But the sponges won't be getting RFID chips anyway, so you still have the same problem.

Re:Okay. But... (2, Informative)

mph (7675) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745218)

But the sponges won't be getting RFID chips anyway, so you still have the same problem.
Huh? TFA was about sponges with RFID chips!

Re:Okay. But... (0, Offtopic)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745311)

Ah, well, that's what I get for not RTFA - there was no mention of sponges in the summary, so I assumed they were only talking about tools. My bad.

Re:Okay. But... (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745233)

Bloody sponges shouldn't be hard either. They use things like the shoe holders that go on the back of doors. Each sponge gets it's own pocket and you count them that way. The few times I've observed surgeries everyone was meticulous about counting and recounting all the instruments and guass that were used.

Re:Okay. But... (4, Insightful)

elzurawka (671029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745164)

If your in a emergency room, you might have hundreds of tools that you need quick access to. You dont have time to count, or probobly the mental dextarity to remember to count, the number of tools your using when your trying to save someones life.
You need to concentrate on what your doing, not on how many clamps you've used.

Turn it around (2, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745138)

I'm more worried that they won't forget to put the RFID in the patient before they close the body.

Bruce

string works (1)

Bootsy (33005) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745139)

If its such a problem, why not a simple solution like string? Worked with my mittens when I was a young'n

Pencil and Paper ... easier & cheaper (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745200)

WTF? Why do they need a superduperwonderfulelectrogadget to solve this problem?
The easier & cheaper solution involves a pencil and a piece of paper.
Do you have the scalpel? Check. Do you have the bar of soap? Check.

Aren't surgical tools made of metal? (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745235)

If the chip is literally inside the tool, it seems to me that it would be hard to sense the chip.

  If it's just glued very strongly onto the surface of the tool, then it could come off inside the patient.

And as for things like sponges... which proverbially (I'm saying "proverbially" because I have no idea whether it's true) are among the commonest things to leave inside, well, they're basically soft, aren't they, so you'd think it might not be that hard for the chip to come loose from the sponge.

I don't think I'd like to need to get cut open again just because nobody could tell for sure whether there was a tool or a just a chip. Of course they could X-ray, but if they could see everything clearly with the X-ray they wouldn't need the chip in the first place.

And unless there's an absolute guarantee that every instrument is chipped, well, the nurses need to know which instruments are chipped and which aren't, and keep an accurate count of the unchipped instruments...

Re:TFA (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745257)

Ah. Well, the good news is that TFA says I'm right about sponges being common things to leave in the patient.

And the bad news is I've made it crystal clear that I didn't read TFA before I wrote my comment.

But the good news is I think my comment is reasonable, anyway.

Hoping? (1)

nate nice (672391) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745276)

So the scientists are "hoping" they shrink in size? Since when did scientists get all faith based on us? It's time to stop "hoping" and start doing, folks.

It's not too much of a stretch (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745280)

A recent visit to a hospital nursery revealed that they're now equipping newborns with anti-theft devices. Sort of a cross between a LoJack and a department store anti-shoplifting tag, the device is secured around the baby's ankle and removed when parents and child leave for home. Presumably this would help in the event of an attempted abduction both by alerting people to the fact that somebody was leaving the floor with an unauthorized baby, and by allowing said baby to be tracked. It's not such a bad idea--too bad they are needed.

Let's compare this to.... (3, Funny)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745287)

A computer technician. I know, I know, they are very much different...but they're actually the same, too. ;)

Tech 1: Ok, just got done replacing the power supply in this bad boy, let's fire it up.

Tech 2: Hey, where's my screwdriver....

*ZOT*

Tech 1: Oh, wait a minute.... oh, ok here's the problem, I left this screwdriver lying on the motherboard and it fried the motherboard!

Tech 2: Shouldn't you have looked inside the case before you put the cover back on?

Tech 1: Maybe we should put RFID tags on our tools so I won't do this again...

Tech 2: .... *SLAP*

How about, stop smoking the sticky-icky right before you work on very important things (I.E. computers, human bodies)...

Size is the block? (1)

dougman (908) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745313)

FTA, "The biggest current stumbling block is the chip's size".

These folks should talk to HP. According to /., they are making them the size of a grain of rice [slashdot.org] or was it a tomato seed [slashdot.org]?

I think this is another great example of how the technology can be used for good.

I was wondering... (0, Redundant)

avatarz (966741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745319)

I was wondering what would happen if the RFID tag after all the steam and hot temperatures of the sterilization process....

It really does happen (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745327)

Several years ago, there was one case at a local hospital that made the newspapers. A woman had come in for adbominal surgery about 6 or 8 years earlier and was now complaining of pretty severe stomach pains. X-Ray examination quickly revealed that there were not one, but two hemostats that had been left inside her after her surgery.

We were never able to confirm whether her admitting diagnosis had been "A bad case of Stomach Clamps".

Why not a metal detector? (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 7 years ago | (#15745350)

Do they really need a precise count?
The number of things left in the patient should be zero.
I'd think a normal metal detector could detect most tools without modification,
and it wouldn't be that hard to add a bit of steel to the sponges.

The same technology they should be using at the MRI machine.

-- Should you believe authority without question?
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