Major Distribution Deal Signed for Surgical Sponge Tracking System

Cardinal Health, a global provider of health care products, has signed an agreement to distribute SmartSponge™, the first system cleared by the Food and Drug Administration that both counts and detects sponges during surgeries with RFID technology. The April 1 deal with ClearCount Medical Solutions allows Cardinal to distribute ClearCount's patented system to hospitals, surgery centers, and other health care distributors in the United States. Pittsburgh-based ClearCount had announced the launch of SmartSponge the day before.

The sponges are permanently affixed with a passive radio frequency identification tag smaller than a dime. A display highlights any count discrepancy, in which case a SmartWand™ scan is used to identify any sponge remaining in the patient. A SmartMat™ under the patient provides notification that a scan is proceeding properly. Cardinal said the system saves time, prevents unnecessary X-rays, and reduces errors.

"Patient safety has always been a top priority for hospitals, and they are becoming even more focused on preventing foreign objects from being left behind following surgery," said Steve Inacker, president and general manager of Cardinal's Presource kitting business. "This agreement demonstrates our continuing commitment to offer our customers leading technologies to help improve safety and productivity in their operating rooms."

Cardinal, an $87 billion company with headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and an increasing number of private insurers have said they soon will no longer reimburse for procedures associated with "never" events such as left-behind surgical sponges, and published studies indicate one in every 1,000 to 1,500 intra-abdominal surgeries results in a sponge left behind in a patient, which can lead to sepsis, unnecessary X-rays, repeat surgeries, and even deaths.

Separately, DuPont announced Wednesday that it intends to buy the Industrial Apparel line of Cardinal's Scientific and Production Products business, which manufactures products used in cleanrooms and other controlled environments, for an undisclosed price. The agreement will bolster the DuPont Personal Protection unit and includes the transfer of Cardinal industrial garments including the Micro-Clean® brand, while Cardinal will retain its hospital apparel product line and its industrial gloves offering.

"This acquisition builds on DuPont's longstanding role as a premier provider of innovative technologies that help protect people and critical processes," said Mark Vergnano, group vice president of DuPont Safety & Protection. "It also enhances DuPont's industrial garment portfolio, allowing us to grow our offering to customers with an expanded range of consumables for controlled environments, including life sciences and electronics manufacturing sites."

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