Preventing Retained Vaginal Sponges

How I Practice Video Series 
Dr. Jason O. Heaton, MD, FACOG

Preventing Retained Vaginal Sponge: Jason O. Heaton, MD, FACOG from ACOG on Vimeo.

Transcript: Preventing Retained Vaginal Sponges

Occasionally, after I deliver a baby, or perhaps after an anterior or posterior repair of a GYN patient, I’ll have to leave a sponge in place to stop any small amount of bleeding. We all know how important it is not to leave a sponge in our patients; that’s essential and a sentinel event. I really like to make sure that I use every method I can to prevent this. The first method I’ll use is making sure that I tie the string of the laparotomy sponge on the Foley catheter so that, when the Foley catheter is removed, the sponge comes out as well. I’ll also document that I’ve left a sponge in in the order, so that the nurses know, and in my transitions of care with the next healthcare team, I’ll make sure that I remind them that a foreign body is in place and that it needs to be removed prior to discharge. What my practice has done that I think is the best is an inexpensive way of using a black wristband. I’ll place this around a patient’s wrist, and I’ll explain to her that I’ve left a sponge in place on purpose, and that this sponge needs to come out prior to discharge, and I’ll also remind her that nobody should cut the wristband off until the sponge is out. Many patients have told me that they felt more involved in their care, and they feel that they were a part of the healthcare team. It makes me feel good when patients realize they’re a part of the team and that they know how important it is to remove the foreign bodies. That’s how I practice. 

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