The National Quality Forum (NQF) is a not-for-profit organization that supports efforts to improve healthcare. The NQF publishes a list of harmful clinical events that are largely preventable. They refer to these as Serious Reportable Events. NQF designed this list to help healthcare facilities assess, measure and report performance in providing safe care. Mercy Hospital Folsom has a goal of eliminating preventable events. One of our areas of focus has been unintended retention of a foreign object in a patient after surgery.
A retained object is something that is left in a patient’s body after surgery, delivery of a baby, or other procedure. Small sponges and clamps are the most common unintentional retained objects. In most cases, there is no lasting harm to the patient. Often, the object can be removed right away, without another surgery. Sometimes, a surgical cut needs to be opened again to take the object out. Some small objects might be left in the body if they won’t cause health problems.
To prevent these events we use a standardized and systematic process for counting all surgical items used during surgery at Mercy Hospital of Folsom to make sure we know where they are. Our applicable surgery and procedure area staff are trained on this process upon hire and every year. We are proud to report that with the implementation of these strategies we have had zero retained foreign objects for greater than 5 years.