Evolving from a set of ten resolutions agreed upon by Australian perioperative leaders at the 1977 inaugural national meeting of the Australian perioperative nursing community, ACORN's Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia (the Standards) are now in their 15th edition. The next 16th edition is on-track for release in May 2020 at the ACORN Conference in Sydney.
The core aim of the Standards is to support ACORN members, and Australian perioperative nurses to deliver safe and high-quality perioperative care. This aim aligns directly with ACORN's vision for Australian patients to receive the safest and highest quality evidence-based perioperative care in the world.
Additionally, the Standards also aim to assist and guide Australian perioperative nurses in their efforts to:
- reduce risks to perioperative patients and staff
- comply with relevant Australian national, jurisdictional and local accreditation processes as well as legislative and regulatory instruments and requirements
- review and improve current perioperative practices consistent with and in response to professional trends, published evidence, scientific discoveries, technological innovations and emerging biological, disease-related or societal threats and norms.
ACORN members' contributions
Since their inception, a key characteristic of the Standards has been their reliance on contributions from ACORN members. Most often, small teams of ACORN members and perioperative experts have voluntarily undertaken reviews and analysis of existing evidence to inform authorship or co-authorship of a specific standard or suite of standards. These volunteer efforts are substantial. They are also vital to the revision and publication of an updated edition of the Standards every two years.
As the Standards flourished, they understandably became more comprehensive and detailed. ACORN members continue to embrace and take up the Standards as do individuals, professional organisations, national and jurisdictional authorities and commercial partners who are external to ACORN but supportive of ACORN's efforts. In 2019 a dedicated team, the Standards Advisory Team (SAT) worked tirelessly to developed eight new or substantially revised standards which will be included with the remaining updated standards in the 16th edition.
ACORN's coordination of the Standards
The task of coordinating the timely and well-informed revision, publication and promotion of the Standards is increasingly complex and demanding. In 2009 ACORN recruited a salaried research assistant to check the validity of references used in the Standards. In 2012 the ACORN board revised, expanded and reconfigured oversight of the Standards and created an honorarium-based position of Standards Editor. ACORN appointed Dr Sonya Osborne PhD to the position of inaugural Standards Editor in 2013. As Standards Editor, Dr Osborne revolutionised and improved the content of the Standards and every aspect of their development and review. Dr Osborne resigned in mid-2018.
The ACORN board reviewed and the Standards Editor position in late 2018 and developed a permanent part-time position of Professional Standards Officer (PSO). Dr Cath Murphy currently holds the PSO position working closely with the ACORN Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, Roadmap Project National Leadership Group and ACORN members to continually improve the content, implementation, uptake and review of the Standards and ensure alignment with the important internal and external drivers as well as meet ACORN members' needs.