Pittsburg-based ClearCount Medical Solutions is using RFID to automate the process of tracking surgical sponges, marking what could be one of the first RFID systems to debut in an operating room setting, the EE Times reports. The startup's Smart Sponge system aims to eliminate the problem of sponges left inside a patient, a mistake that occurs as often as once in every 1,000 surgeries, according to various studies. The ClearCount technology, however, has the combined capabilities of RFID to keep a count of sponges and track the position and number of any sponges left in a patient. In addition, the RFID can include data programmed by the vendor and the hospital. Thus far, the system has passed inspections from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Federal Communications Commission. It officially debuted in April at a conference for operating room nurses (Merritt, EE Times, 5/19/08).