About this idea
Retained surgical items are cited as a "Never Event" by the Joint Commission, meaning they should never happen. Today, surgical sponges are the #1 retained item across operating rooms, occurring 11 times per day. A patient that leaves the operating room has a 5% chance of death, 17% chance of permanent injury, and a 78% chance of temporary injury. Operating rooms are hectic, staff workload is high, and interruptions are constant. Retained sponge cases occur today because hospitals don't have a system that suits their needs.
Our device, Spongetrak™, is a low-cost innovation on the existing hospital sponge management system. We have worked with over 80 operating room clinicians and an industry-leading hospital network to develop an easy-to-use, intuitive, system that separates and organizes sponges used in intense surgical cases. During our time with these clinicians, we observed various OR procedures and received real-time feedback on our device. Spongetrak™ is designed by clinicians, for clinicians. One of the greatest frustrations we hear about existing devices is that the “current sponge bags don't differentiate between sponge type, and the racks don't hold as many bags as we need."
Working under the guidance of clinicians, Spongetrak™ was designed with a color-coded rack and bag system to identify and separate Raytec and Laparotomy sponges, so that even during the most intense procedures, the correct sponges go in the correct place. Additionally, our rack holds up to 20 bags that live on (180-degree) swivel arms so they can be easily cataloged at the end of the procedure. Finally, our bags are designed to hold the various sponge types in numbered pouches, so no pouch is double-filled, nor left unfilled.
Our goal with Spongetrak™ is to deliver the easiest, most intuitive, and most-effective sponge management system for clinicians and patients today, and we believe we have done just that.
Spongetrak™ – Spongetraking you can count on.
Operating rooms are hectic by nature. Time pressure, distraction, and multi-tasking are cited as some of the top reasons why discrepant or false correct counts are prevalent in operating rooms today. For this reason, Spongetrak focuses on bloody and intensive surgeries where incorrect sponge counts are common; Abdominal, OBGYN, and Orthopedic some among many. According to the joint commission, these "high-intensity" procedures make up 68% of procedures (34 million procedures) conducted annually in the United States. Our goal is to have Spongetrak implemented in 100% of these procedures and operating rooms to improve patient outcomes. If a case results in a retained sponge, patients have a 5% chance of death, a 16% chance of permanent injury, and a 78% chance of temporary injury. If Spongetrak is used in 68% of procedures, we'll be able to improve patient outcomes in approximately 34 million procedures, across 6,000 hospitals in the United States.
Spongetrak is low-tech, so why do we think hospitals would implement into their ORs? Aside from a competitive price, increased usability compared to current low-tech devices, and our positive feedback from three ORs that have product-trialed our first prototype, for the past 10-years, high-tech devices have captured only 20% of ORs, leaving low-tech devices to occupy the remaining 80%. In 2019, 80% of ORs that had a retained sponge case, also reported having documented sponge counts as "correct," even when a sponge was missing. There is a gap in low-tech sponge management systems, and hospitals need a low-cost device to fill this gap and help create safer spaces for patients.
What I'll do with $5,000
Instrumental Med Design (IMD) is currently in the prototype development stage. To date, we have introduced our V1 prototype into three operating rooms, and currently have 10 ORs signed up to receive our V2 prototype model in February 2021. During the second round of prototyping, we will be manufacturing three models for in-service product trials. To complete the in-service, each operating room will receive a Spongetrak rack and 200 bags. IMD will be molding and casting the rack prototype in-house but will need to outsource the foreign production of 5,000 bags. We have already sourced a supplier who has proven the manufacture of our bags and has produced a quotation for prototype models. The $5,000 we receive from Start Garden’s 5x5 Night will allow us to deliver our models for in-service trials and lock in our V2 design. Once trials are complete, IMD will make small, necessary design changes, lock in the prototype, and move into the early stages of production. If we do not receive $5,000, we will not be able to produce the needed bags for product trials and we will not be able to reduce the daily occurrence of retained sponges threatening the safety of patients around the world.
About Trevor McMahon
I am a product developer living in Grand Rapids, MI. I have a strong background in medical device and silicone/plastics development in both industrial and consumer spaces.