Working with GE Healthcare and the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), GE Global Research scientists will develop a prototype robotic system capable of locating, sorting, delivering, and sterilizing surgical tools .
A mash up of technology, including robotic systems, RFID, and computer vision will form the backbone of the automated system. Tools such as clamps and scalpels will be provided a unique ID so that they are readily identifiable by various robotic components.
The prototype system will perform various tasks, including kitting of surgical tools, movement throughout the sterilization process, and transport to and from the operating theater ensuring the correct tools are in the right place, at the right time, and in sterile and working order.
The $2.5 million project will span two years. At the conclusion, automated systems will be tested at a yet-to-be determined VA hospital.
In most hospitals, tools are inspected, washed, and counted multiple times by hand. According to the Institute of Medicine, between 44,000 and 98,000 patients die every year due to preventable medical errors accounting for a $12-$25 billion cost to the U.S. healthcare system.