The ACORN Practice Audit Tools (PATs) are customised spreadsheets to record evidence of clinical practice during real-time observational audits of perioperative nurses.

In 2018 and 2019 ACORN produced 12 PATs, grouped into two ‘bundles’, which were developed for the ACORN standards (listed sequentially below) that were included in the 15th edition of the Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia (the ACORN Standards).

ACORN's release of the 16th edition of the ACORN Standards in May 2020 rescinded the previous 15th edition. The 12 PATs are still technically valid and ACORN encourages existing users to continue monitoring perioperative practice against them. However, the PATs no longer align with the ACORN Standards (16th edition). As a result ACORN has temporarily suspended sales of the PATs.

ACORN is in the process of reviewing and making minor amendments to the existing 12 PATs and considering development of new PATs which will align with the 16th edition of the ACORN Standards. PAT users and members will be advised when these new and revised PATs are available.


Practice Audit Tools 1: Asepsis and clinical care

1. Perioperative attire

2. Asepsis and Infection prevention

3. Surgical hand antisepsis, gowning 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.

FAQs about the PATs