During surgery, while the patient is sleeping, a LOT goes on! I’m going to tell you about one of those things…we count!
We count instruments, we count sponges (not like Mom used to clean, more like a soft white washcloth that’s REALLY absorbent, hence the “sponge” moniker). We count anything that might escape us and get left inside a patient. We count everything first and then, during surgery, we do a minimum of two more counts.
I had a nurse call me one day, and ask if she could give Dr. X my phone number. I told her absolutely. He called and asked me if our counts were good during a surgery three days prior. The patient had come back to the ER with a fever. I told him I could give him an absolute “yes”. I hung up the phone and thought about that case…and I called him back. I told him “Dr. X if you’ll think back, our first closing count came up to 14 out of 15 sponges. The nurse said she saw it on the floor under the table and we started the count over so it’s absolutely correct.” He thanked me for calling and said he did remember us counting over again.
It’s one of the things we do. We count every time and each time is correct or we do it again. It’s a team effort. It allows us to take care of the patient while they’re asleep and can’t take care of themselves.
From the Desk of Lita Fitch, Surgical Technologist Site Coordinator