From the Editor

The recent news about a $275,000 lawsuit being settled over a retained surgical towel (see below) brings forward the issue of RSIs–Retained Surgical Items–surgical items inadvertently left inside a patient after surgery.

The issue of retained items has been around since the dawn of surgery. These days, items left behind most often are surgical sponges, needles, and instruments or pieces of instruments. One study, conducted in a high-volume academic surgical practice at Mayo Clinic Rochester, was able to reduce the occurrence of sponge RSIs from approximately once every 64 days to zero over an 18-month period by using a data-matrix-coded sponge counting system. Read the abstract of that Feb. 2011 report here.

Want to raise awareness about RSI prevention in your OR? AORN offers a  Confidence Based Learning module on RSIs. It is part of their online continuing education series, available for purchase by AORN members, non-members and facilities.

Julie Lancaster

Large Settlement Paid for Towels in Patient’s Body

“The federal government has agreed to pay $275,000 to settle a lawsuit from a man who had two towels left inside of him after surgeons at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland removed a cancerous kidney,” reads a Dec. 14 article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Mark Gillispie.

“Robert Sanner, 47, of New Philadelphia, felt pain and discomfort in the days after his surgery in May 2008 that left him free of cancer. It took three return visits to the hospital before he underwent a CAT scan in August 2008 that showed the towels, measuring 14-by-11 inches, had been left in his body.”

Read the full article here.

Private Practice Doctors Going Broke

CNN Money has published a sobering report about the financial woes plaguing a wide range of small-business doctors nationwide. The causes range from sharp reductions in Medicare reimbursement to the doctors’ own lack of business training. Read the full article here.

Student Spotlight: Laura Kwitek

231Name: Laura Kwitek
Credentials: WHNP-BC, APNP
Student Status: Current student, RNFA program
City and State: Madison, WI
Current Job: Women’s health nurse practitioner, UW-Health Fitchburg, WI
Path to RNFA: I wanted to become an RN so that I could help people be more comfortable when they are struggling with health concerns. I enjoy helping them understand what is happening to them and how to transition through it. I did my RN training at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. I decided to become an RNFA when I was in between nurse practitioner jobs and I was not sure how long it would take me to find work. I always liked surgery and circulated in the OR while I was a labor and delivery RN. I am so glad that I went through this program. It was well worth it.