Retained Surgical
Sharps Impact

Lost Needles Are a Fact of Surgeon Life

  • 63.8% of surgeons surveyed experienced a lost needle during surgery within the last 12 months
  • 89.6% reported one to five losses during their careers.1

Increased Risks to Patient and Staff

  • Prolonged anesthesia time
  • Patient/staff X-Ray exposure
  • Potential chronic pain, irritation, or organ injury

Increased OR Time and Costs

  • Over 13% of events required more than 30 minutes to locate and recover needles.1
  • In 3% of events, surgeons were unable to recover needles after search

$2 Million Average Malpractice Claim

  • RSI events are not reimbursable, leaving hospitals to absorb costs and settlement
  • Approximately $473,000 average RSI indemnity payment
  • Approximately $2,000,000 claim involving permanent patient damage
  • $105,000 to $865,000 individual physician indemnity.2

Damaged Surgeon and Hospital Reputations

  • RSIs must be reported and impact hospital safety grades
  • The media is quick to report sensational RSI events
  • Following some cases, hospital leadership changes and entire practices close

Case Study: Losing
Surgical Needles

While surgical sponges are the most common RSI, lost needles are a close second. To avoid the consequences of RSIs, surgeons spend a significant amount of time and resources locating lost surgical needles, broken instruments and sharps in their patients. RSI searches result in greater exposure to radiation, prolonged anesthesia, and ultimately result in increased OR costs. When surgeons can’t find sharps, patient disclosure is required and both hospitals and surgeons are at risk of reputational damage or litigation.

Melzi Sharps Finder

The Melzi Sharps Finder was designed by surgeons who understand how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to search for surgical needles and sharps. This tool is designed to work in a 5mm trocar and can be used for open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgeries. The Melzi Sharps Finder gives surgeons an easy-to-use tool designed to quickly locate lost sharps.

Specification Overview

(Please contact us for detailed spec sheet.  The Melzi Sharps Finder is not yet commercially available in the United States.)

  • Sensing Tip — Designed with sensitivity to locate most lost sharps.
  • Software — Designed to operate in most operating environments.
  • Portability — Lightweight easy to handle form factor can operate through 5mm trocar.
  • Flexibility — Soft end allows product to search around delicate organs.
  • Versatility — Variable response to guide the search for lost sharps.

Our Mission

To create cost-effective technology that improves patient outcomes while reducing hospital expenses.

About Melzi

The growth of minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic procedures has made it harder for surgeons to find lost needles, broken instruments, and other types of sharps and fragments. Because retained objects can cause serious harm to patients, surgeons always go to great lengths to ensure all tools are accounted for.

But when dealing with an average of 300 tools per surgery, multiple rotations of staff, and parts breaking off, it is challenging to keep track of everything. While RFID technology is deployed on sponges, surgeons must rely on visual searches for any metal objects such as needles, sharps, and broken tools. If the item isn’t found, patients typically receive an X-ray scan and more anesthesia as OR staff spend more time searching—all of which significantly increases costs and risk.

Robotic surgeons, Dr. Sam Weprin and Dr. Dan Eun, set out to solve this problem. With the help of biomedical engineering professor, Dr. John Noel, they invented the Melzi Sharps Finder that works on open, laparoscopic, and robotic surgeries.

Leadership Team

Reid Rutherford


Reid drives Melzi’s strategic vision and manages financial operations.  Reid is a successful serial entrepreneur currently serving on the board for: BigRentz, ConnectSV, DSP Concepts and United In Purpose. MBA Stanford.

Dr. Samuel Weprin

CO-FOUNDER & Product Innovation

Sam identified the medical product need and drove the initial product design and refinement.  He is a resident physician at Virginia Commonwealth Health and received his MD from Temple University.

Ivy Montgomery

CO-FOUNDER & VP of Marketing

Ivy helps bring Sharps Finders to the hands of the surgeons. She is a B2B Go-to-Market executive with a passion to create innovate technologies to lower healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes. She received her MBA from MIT Sloan.

Dr. Daniel Eun

CO-FOUNDER & Chief Robotic Surgeon

​Dan provides guidance to create products and features that address key surgical needs. He is a Chief Robotic Surgeon and Director of Minimally Invasive Robotic Urologic Oncology and Reconstructive Surgery at Temple University Hospital. He is also a Professor of Urology at Lewis Katz School of Medicine.

Dr. John Noel

CO-FOUNDER & Product Engineering

​John has the passion and expertise in designing and developing medical technology. He is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Research at the Department of Physics at Temple University. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Texas A&M.

Luke Clauson

CO-FOUNDER & Innovative Drive CEO

Innovative Drive specializes in both product design and manufacturing systems for medical devices with a firm understanding of quality systems, regulatory constraints, and IP strategy. It has been a R&D partner for many medical device companies.

Medical Advisors

Lanhee Chen

Chair of the Board of Directors

El Camino Hospital

Dr. James Porter

Chief Robotic Urological Surgery

Swedish Medical Center

Dr. Sean Harbison

Chief of General Surgery Surgery

Penn Presbyterian

Dr. James Brooks

Chief- Urologic Oncology

Stanford Medicine

Dr. Arnold Advincula

Chief Gynecologic Surgery

Columbia Medical

Dr. Jay Shah

Genitourinary Cancer Care Leader

Stanford Medical Center

Dr. Abbas Abbas

Double Board Certified

Temple University

Dr. Nicholas Perrino

Assistant Vice President

Hospital for Special Surgery


Medical articles: 

  1. A protocol to recover needles lost during minimally invasive surgery. Jayadevan, R., Stensland, K., Small, A., Hall, S., & Palese, M. (2014).

Abstract: Retained surgical needles are reported to cause chronic pain, chronic irritation, and organ injury. Few detailed recommendations exist for the recovery of a misplaced needle. This survey was administered to minimally invasive surgeons across the United States to glean observations on the incidence of lost surgical needles and recovery techniques.

  1. Retained surgical item lawsuits will cost you. Goodwin, B. (2018, March 01).

Abstract: Retained surgical items are considered a “never event” by the National Quality Forum and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has adopted rules that eliminate reimbursement for the costs associated with all “never events.” Hospitals must absorb the costs of the surgery and associated hospitalization in addition to the claim costs, making RSI incidents a significant problem for institutions.

  1. OR costs: Labor vs Material ABA Keywords. (n.d.).

Abstract: Anesthesia accounts for 5.6% of perioperative costs. The operating room, as a whole, accounts for 40% of total hospital expenses while generating 70% of revenue. Operating room costs are divided into two categories—fixed and variable expenses.

  1. What does one minute of operating room time cost? Journal of Clinical Anesthesia, 22, 233-236.Macario, A. (2010.)

Abstract: An older study of 100 U.S. hospitals found that OR charges averaged $62/min (range: $22 to $133/min), excluding extra resources specific to the procedure and surgeon and anesthesia provider fees. Cost varies significantly based on the complexity of the procedure as well.

  1. Hospital Safety Grade. (n.d.).

Abstract: The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is a public service provided by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the U.S. health system. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is becoming the gold standard measure of patient safety.)

Examples of lost sharps cases: 

  1. “Leaders at Hopkins children’s hospital in Florida resign amid report of high injury, death rates,” Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun.

Abstract: Leaders from a Johns Hopkins-affiliated children’s hospital in Florida resigned following a year-long investigation by the Tampa Bay Times that revealed a high rate of devastating injuries and death among the center’s young patients. One of the main causes of these poor outcomes was needles lost inside infants during surgery.

  1. “The story of the lost needle: Foreign body embolization to the heart,” Abhijit Ghatak MD, et al., ScienceDirect.

Abstract: Foreign bodies can migrate from the subcutaneous tissue into the venous circulation and subsequently into the heart. A thorough surgical history is important in the evaluation of foreign bodies in the heart. An assessment of symptoms and future risk of complications guide the removal of cardiac foreign bodies.

  1. “Nashville surgeon left needle inside patient, then couldn’t get it out, lawsuit says,” Brett Kelman, Nashville Tennessean.

Abstract: The family of a Tennessee man sued TriStar Centennial hospital saying a surgeon left a needle in his body during heart surgery and was unable to retrieve it in a second operation. The man’s health steadily worsened over the thirty days following his initial procedure.

  1. “A baby left All Children’s with a needle in her heart,” Kathleen McGrory, Tampa Bay Times.

Abstract: After a newborn’s surgery initially went well, a follow-up appointment uncovered a complication—an RSI needle. A second 30-minute surgery discovered a needle stuck in the aorta and the hospital found a series of problems similar that were never made public.

  1. “St. John’s Regional Medical Center fined for needle left in patient after heart surgery,” Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star.

Abstract: A 2014 open-heart surgery at St. John’s Regional Medical Center resulted in a 3-inch-long needle left in the abdominal tissue of the patient. Four years later, the “minor” incident turned into a $40,400 fine for the hospital.

  1. “Lost needle tip during hysterectomy,” Joseph S. Sanfilippo, MD, MBA, et al., OBG Management.

During a vaginal hysterectomy, anterior colporrhaphy, and TOT placement, a needle tip broke off and was ultimately unrecoverable. Needle and sponge counts were performed, reported as correct, and no imaging of the pelvis was ordered. Three months later, the patient reported chronic pain, had the needle point removed by another surgeon, and won a lawsuit against the original institution.


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