Surgical safety device is his invention, but ENT is what he does

After becoming concerned about wrong-site surgery, a St. Louis doctor invented a device to keep patients safe.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Dec. 3, 2007

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Richard A. Chole, MD

Specialty: Otolaryngology

Location: St. Louis

Company: CheckSite Medical Inc., a medical device company that uses sensors and microchips to add an "extra layer of safety in the preoperative process." It uses a microchip bracelet around the patient's wrist, and two sensors on either side of the operating room door. The surgeon deactivates the microchip after all preoperative steps, including verification of surgery site, have been taken. If the microchip is not deactivated, an alarm will sound as the patient is wheeled into the operating room.

Annual revenue: Approximately $200,000.

Why he started the business: Dr. Chole said he became aware of a number of problems with wrong-site surgery a few years ago.

Systems that were in place -- presurgery counseling and marking the surgery site -- worked, but only when people used them.

"At the time I was chief of staff at [Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis] and we had become concerned that this is a rare event, but one that we didn't want to happen ever."

Why he continues to practice: CheckSite "is just an invention of mine. I am head of the ENT department at Washington [University School of Medicine]. I have a research lab and clinical practice. That is my main job. That is what I was trained to do and that is what I will continue to do. Never crossed my mind [to leave]."

Words of wisdom: "I think that physicians have the obligation to be constantly thinking out of the box, and physicians are in a very good position to recognize things that might change the way our system works."

"[I] think physicians often notice things that can be improved by them, it's just a matter of taking the initiative to get it done."

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