Surgical Products recently talked to Dr. Lawrence Lottenberg, MD FACS, University of Florida College of Medicine, about two systems, the RF Assure Detection System and the RF Assure Delivery System, being used across the country to reduce RSS events in the OR. With this breakthough in technology, Lottenberg said the future in RSS prevention "looks bright." Dr. Lottenberg

Surgical Products: Why do RSS events pose a dangerous threat to patients?

Lottenberg: Retained cavity foreign bodies, especially sponges and gauze pads, create intense foreign body reactions even within 24 hours. This causes abscess formation, intense inflammatory reaction, adhesions, bowel obstruction, and erosion into bowel and blood vessels. These always lead to postoperative complications and reoperations.

SP: How has your medical facility implemented this new technology?

Lottenberg: Implementation was seamless with the support from RF Surgical. Once contractual obligations were met, the vendor provided onsite support for several weeks to introduce the product to the operating room staff and most importantly to the surgeons. All of the surgeons were then comfortable with the technology, learned in scanning techniques, both the mat and the wand and realized the system was failsafe and provided a level of comfort never seen before in foreign body reconciliation.

SP: Has this technology helped reduce RSS events in your facility? Is it being used in other facilities?

Lottenberg: From a personal point of view, I have found retained sponges in the abdomen and chest cavities on almost a dozen occasions since implementation of RF Assure when the count was incorrect. Additionally, we have been able to say the incorrect count was not related to a cavity foreign body and we have safely located the retained sponge in the trash bin, on the floor or within instruments on the back table. RF Assure Detection System is currently in more than 400 hospitals and hospital systems and more are embracing the technology every day.

SP: Why is adjunct detection technology so important to reducing RSS events in the OR?

Lottenberg: Counting sponges is a human effort and such efforts are always subject to error. This technology supplements and eliminates human error. No longer is medicine allowed the mantra “to err is human.” Additionally, the safety of the patient in the operating room is paramount, more today than ever. Finally, the cost to society in additional charges for complications, reoperation, and litigation is prohibitive in today’s healthcare environment.

SP: The cost savings from using the RF Assure Detection System is evident, but how do you think this technology breakthrough will help ORs in the future? Do you see ways the system can improve?

Lottenberg: Many surgeons try to eliminate human error in reconciling sponge counts by obtaining radiographs on every patient. One film will never show the entire abdomen. Multiple films cause unnecessary radiation exposure, add time to anesthesia and operating room with potential hazards to patient and additional cost (time based) so the RF Assure Detection System will surely eliminate that exposure.

Finally, the future is bright for this technology.  Harnessing RF to surgical instruments, towels, drapes and all the equipment that is placed into body cavities will allow every patient to avoid the tragedy of retained foreign body.