University of North Carolina Hospitals has implemented radio-frequency detection technology to prevent surgical items from being left in the body following a procedure.

The university is using the Assure Detection System from RF Surgical Systems Inc., Bellevue, Wash. Surgical items are fitted with an RF tag and a "detection map" is placed on the surgical table under the patient. The system scans the surgical site and alerts staff if a tagged item remains inside the patient.

Initial results of the detection system, according the university, include:

* Radio frequency detection can speed identifying items and avoid using radiation to locate missing sponges,

* Items can be left behind in patients after surgery even when manual counts were correct, thus demonstrating the need for a back-up safety check, and

* Nursing staff overwhelmingly report that radio frequency detection results in less stress during wound closure and more confidence that no objects are left behind.


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