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Surgical instruments and sponges are mistakenly left inside patients for more than a dozen times a day. Hospitalizations involving a lost instrument or sponge can average costing more than $60,000 for a hospital. The objective of this design project is to develop a simple, innovative tracking flow process that will better keep track of surgical instruments and sponges before and after surgeries. Using high temperature stickers with matrix barcode technology attached to the surgical instruments, the instruments will be easily scanned into a database to track when instruments are checked in and checked out. Before all instruments are used and returned to the surgical tray, the total weight of all instruments will be acquired using a weighing scale to additionally verify all instruments are present and have been returned. Limitations against the design include portability, cost efficiency, and time efficiency. The design must also sustain high temperature sterilization and be transferrable to multiple types of surgery. The complexity to track surgical sponges more easily poses a remaining issue that must be solved. The flow process will decrease the amount of misplaced surgical instruments, saving hospitals more money. It will also decrease the amount of time wasted between surgery completion and sterilization.

Publication Date



Mechanical and nuclear engineering, surgical, instruments, barcode, tracking


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Gokul Vasudevamurthy

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Karla Mossi

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2016

Tracking Surgical Instruments