Stryker (NYSE:SYK) said today it is launching the SurgiCount Promise risk-sharing program, offering up to $5 million in product-liability costs to hospitals which use its SurgiCount safety-sponge system.
The system is designed to eliminate retained sponges, which can cause severe injuries in patients and cost the healthcare system $2.4 billion on average every year, according to Stryker.
“This is one of the few places in any industry where manual count is the only method,” Stryker Surgicount director Nate Miersma told MassDevice.com in an interview.
The SurgiCount system is designed to track each sponge individually to eliminate any chance of retained sponges, and will now come with $5 million in product liability indemnification and a rebate for the cost of implementing the SurgiCount system.
“Our system incorporates a device master tag, which looks like a 2 dimensional QR code, on a band on the outside of the sponges. That QR code contains individual serial number identities on each sponge inside the pack,” Miersma said.
After the procedure, each sponge is checked in and the individual in charge of sponge counts can not only check to make sure the right amount of sponges are accounted for, but make sure that each individual sponge checked in initially has been checked out, Miersma said.
“If there is a discrepancy between the number, it will highlight not only how many sponges have not been scanned out yet but will tell you specifically which one with a unique identifier so that they don’t just find one on the floor and assume they found the correct one, they know they found the specific one that went with the procedure,” Miersma told MassDevice.com.
The system’s backend maintains a compliance database logging each sponge used in each procedure, as well as the patients they were used on, and any discrepancies that occurred, Miersma said.
The newly launched SurgiCount Promise is, essentially, Stryker’s statement of promise that when a customer uses its system the company is 100% confident they won’t have any more retained sponges, Miersma said.
The idea blossomed out of his time in the field with customers in health care, who said what they wanted was a bigger push towards safer tech and standards, and wanted to see manufacturers putting their “money where their mouth is.”
“Not only were we able to guarantee it from a warranty perspective, but also from an outcomes perspective along with it,” Miersma said.
Miersma said that only 30% to 35% of healthcare facilities use systems like SurgiCount to reduce the rate of retained sponges. He added that the company had an opportunity now to use its $5 million promise to help promote awareness of these types of tech, and how they can be an overall cost savings for hospitals, with rates of retained sponges as high as 4,000 a year.
“We’re extremely confident in the system, we have a great historical data backing,” Miersma said. “So the SurgiCount promise just reflects the confidence we have. Folks who implement SurgiCount will eliminate the instance of retained surgical sponges at their facility. We believe this tech is adjunct to the manual counting process, that it’s still critical to remain focused on the count. And that’s why we’re so confident that the SurgiCount system and promise are the best solution for eliminating retained surgical sponges.”
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