University of Kentucky Implements Radiofrequency Detection Technology to Prevent Retained Surgical Sponges

RF Surgical Systems, the market leader in retained surgical sponge prevention, brings you the RF Assure Detection System. With its unmatched accuracy and seamless simplicity, the RF Assure Detection System delivers a critical measure of safety for patients while enhancing clinical efficiency. (Photo: Business Wire)

LEXINGTON, Ky.--()--UK HealthCare today announced the system-wide adoption of adjunct detection technology to protect patients against the potential risk of retained surgical sponges with the implementation of the RF Assure® Detection System in all operating rooms. In addition, UK is utilizing the first technology specifically designed for the prevention of retained surgical sponges in labor and delivery, the RF Assure® Delivery System.

“Our customers are acknowledged leaders in leveraging innovative technologies to improve quality of care and patient safety,” said John T. Buhler, CEO of RF Surgical Systems, Inc. “Using the RF Assure products instills hospital staff with the assurance of a state-of-the-art protocol for the detection and prevention of retained surgical sponges.”

RF Assure technology minimizes the incidence of retained surgical sponges, allowing hospitals to optimize the safety and quality of care for surgical as well as labor and delivery patients. RF Assure uses a reliable, low-energy radio frequency signal specifically designed for the detection of misplaced surgical sponges through blood, dense tissue, and bone. Additional patient-centric benefits realized by the use of adjunct detection technology include reduction in time under anesthesia and the use of x-rays associated with the time spent rectifying sponge miscounts. RF Surgical supports hospitals, surgical suites and labor and delivery facilities with their products:


The RF Assure Detection System: The preferred solution to the risk of retained surgical sponges in more than 400 U.S. hospitals nationwide. The system consists of an antenna array body scanner that is placed under the patient during the procedure, allowing for a hands-free scan of RF-tagged sponges. Additionally, the patented Blair-Port Wand® quickly scans the OR suite (and the patient complementary) to identify the location of missing RF-tagged sponges in and around the sterile field.


The RF Assure Delivery System: designed to quickly and unobtrusively detect sponges in the birthing canal as well as the surrounding labor and delivery suite, the RF Assure Delivery System is the first adjunct technology customized for the labor and delivery environment, providing accurate detection and prevention of retained surgical sponges.

An estimated 391 cases of retained surgical objects (RSO) occur each week among the 51 million surgical procedures performed each year in the United States,2 with surgical sponges, the cotton squares and towels used to soak up fluids during procedures, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all RSOs. These “never events” represent a significant medical risk to affected patients and, as a result, many prominent medical and healthcare organizations including the American College of Surgeons, the Association of perioperative Registered Nurses and The Joint Commission have endorsed the use of advanced technology to support the prevention of retained surgical sponges (RSS). Through their implementation of adjunct detection technology to prevent RSS, RF Surgical customers are setting the trend among elite US hospitals staunchly advocating patient safety.

A growing body of clinical evidence underscores the detection aspect of adjunct technology through its ability to enhance the efficiencies of hospitals systems. Recently published findings in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS) demonstrated that by reducing unnecessary x-rays and OR procedure delays associated with reconciling sponge counts, RF Assure provides time savings of over 16 minutes per procedure, contributing to significant institutional cost savings3.

“The preponderance of clinical evidence shows manual counting of sponges alone, even with the use of x-ray is an inadequate protocol to achieving the goal of eliminating the incidence of retained surgical sponges,” said Victoria Steelman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Nursing at the University of Iowa and co-author of the JACS Study3. “Our research proves adjunct detection technology, such as the RF Assure Detection System, is accurate and very effective in detecting and preventing RSS which subsequently improves the performance and safety profile of a hospital.”

About UK HealthCare

Established in 1957, UK HealthCare® is the clinical enterprise at the University of Kentucky. UK HealthCare represents the hospitals, clinics, outreach locations, and patient care services and activities of the university’s six health profession colleges (Medicine, Nursing, Health Sciences, Public Health, Dentistry and Pharmacy). UK HealthCare offers 80+ specialized clinics, 143 outreach programs and a team of 9,000 physicians, nurses, pharmacists and health care workers dedicated to patient health.

About RF Surgical Systems, Inc.

RF Surgical Systems, Inc. is the market leader in the detection and prevention of retained surgical items. The company’s flagship product, the RF Assure® Detection System, is the preferred solution in more than 4,500 OR, trauma, and L&D suites nationwide, including most top ranked U.S. hospitals and trauma centers.

RF Surgical Systems is based in Carlsbad, California. U.S. patents protect the advanced technologies used in the RF Assure Detection System™. Regulatory clearance to market the system was granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2006. Additional information about RF Surgical Systems, Inc. can be found at

1 Mehtsun et al. Johns Hopkins Report, 2013

2 National Center for Health Statistics

3 Williams TL, et al, “Retained Surgical Sponges: Findings from Incidence Reports and a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Radiofrequency Technology, Journal American College of Surgeons (2014).


RF Surgical Systems, Inc.
Liana Miller, 949-276-8920

Release Summary

UK HealthCare announces the implementation of adjunct detection technology, the RF Assure Detection System, to protect patients against the potential risk of retained surgical sponges.


RF Surgical Systems, Inc.
Liana Miller, 949-276-8920