The ACORN Practice Audit Tools (PATs) are customised spreadsheets to record evidence of clinical practice during real-time observational audits of perioperative nurses.
There are 12 PATs, grouped into two ‘bundles’, which have been developed for the following ACORN standards (listed sequentially):
Practice Audit Tools 1: Asepsis and clinical care
1. Perioperative attire
2. Asepsis and Infection prevention
3. Surgical hand antisepsis, downing and gloving
4. Preoperative patient skin antisepsis
5. Specimen identification, collection and handling
Practice Audit Tools 2: Staff and patient safety
6. Documentation (from Professional practice)
7. Surgical safety
8. Medication safety
9. Management of sharps in the preoperative environment
10. Safe patient positioning in the perioperative environment and Safe manual handling
11. Management of accountable items used during surgery and procedures
12. Surgical plume and Electrosurgical equipment (from Equipment and environment)
The PATs are designed to measure perioperative nurses’ compliance and therefore the quality of perioperative nursing care against the nationally recognised professional standards of practice, Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia (15th Edition). The collected evidence is a measure of the quality of care and provides a mechanism to improve perioperative nursing practice and patient outcomes.
ACORN recommends that practice audits using these tools are conducted for each of the twelve standards, as a minimum on an annual basis. The PATs may be used more frequently to support local quality improvement programs and the collected audit results will contribute to the evidence requirements for national standards accreditation.
Auditors use a printed version of the audit tool to record the level of compliance with perioperative nurses’ practice during real-time observational audits. After the observation period, the auditor will enter the scores into the electronic spreadsheet program and review the results.