Protocols Help With Finding Missing/Retained Objects in OR

Team implements work practices to enhance collaborative efforts

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Implementation of work protocols designed to enhance communication and collaboration within the operating room appears to have helped a Texas team improve their ability to locate missing surgical sponges, sharps, and instruments, and potentially improve patient outcomes, according to an article published in the October issue of the AORN Journal.

Elizabeth Morell Edel, R.N., of St Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, described two facets of work practices incorporated by surgical services personnel to improve communication and collaboration and promote the best possible patient outcomes. The team implemented use of a dry-erase board for documenting countable items, and developed a new protocol with the radiology department to help radiologists locate an item suspected of being retained when there is an incorrect surgical count.

The researchers found that use of the board eliminated independent practices regarding count information and patient or procedure identifiers, which improved count accuracy and "time out" information. The new radiology protocol providing radiology with a radiograph of an item similar to the size and shape of the missing item -- so that they know what they're looking for -- improved the identification of lost objects, and has standardized their process for dealing with items retained within the surgical wound.

"As a result of implementing both changes, our ability to locate missing items has significantly increased," the author writes.

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