The problem addressed by metal RFID of forgotten surgical tools, sponges and towels is a serious one. The Healthcare Informatics Company found in 2008 that in one out of every eight operations, surgical tools are not properly accounted for. Other statistics indicate such items are left inside a patient’s body in between 1 out of every 1,000 and 1 out of every 5,000 operations. When this happens, they can cause infections and require additional operations, putting a patient’s health at risk and costing a hospital time and money. Until now, hospital operating table personnel had to manually count each small item.
The solution comes from a new generation of small RFID tags. These new metal RFID tags are robust enough to be inserted into surgical instruments, towels and sponges at the time of manufacture and can be read from distances of up to two meters. However, they remain compatible with, and safe for the human body. Xerafy, a Hong Kong company specializing in this technology, has recently introduced a new range of such RFID metal tags. Now RFID for surgical instruments allows them to be tracked automatically, through the operation itself and even throughout sterilization and disposal.
Xerafy offers a couple of whitepapers on the subject worth reading. They can be found here.