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Haptact: Preventing Instrument Retention

Team Members:
  • Jonathan LeMoel
  • Jay Bhasin
  • Rob Hubbard
  • Sean Reeder
  • Jimmy Su
  • Grant Kitchen
  • Inez Lam
  • Annie Mao
  • Hien T. Nguyen, MD


In about 3,000 open surgeries each year, a surgical sponge is inadvertently left inside the patient, requiring a second surgery to remove it, at a cost of $700M to health care system. This is in spite of a “correct sponge count” by the nurses and OR technicians after every surgery. To reduce the number of these second operations, we have developed a wrist-mounted device worn by the circulating nurse integrating seamlessly into the existing workflow of the OR. Our device, Haptact, uses radio-frequency antennae affixed to the wrist of the nurse’s  sterile sleeve to detect unique RF identification tags on the sponges. As the nurse picks up the sponge during the customary manual count, Haptact keeps track of that sponges unique tag number, preventing duplicate counts and keeping a running update of exactly what is “checked out” and in use and what has been “checked in” and returned after the surgery. Haptact thereby supplements the manual counting technique to reduce the risk of an incorrect count.

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