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AORN explains prevention of retained surgical items


The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses has published a guide on implementation of recommended practices for prevention of retained surgical items. The guide, which appears in the February issue of AORN Journal, is the third in a series of AORN articles designed to bridge the gap between standards and implementation.

Strategies for implementing the recommended practices for prevention of retained surgical items include establishing an active role for the perioperative RN in providing an accurate accounting of items dispensed before and during a surgical or invasive procedure, using appropriate detection technologies, and advocating for patients through collaboration with risk managers and other professional colleagues.

“Procedures should include counts of soft goods, needles, miscellaneous items, and instruments, and efforts should be made to prevent retention of fragments of broken devices,” wrote guide authors Judith L. Goldberg, RN, MSN, CNOR, CRCST, and David L. Feldman, MD, MBA, CPE, FACS.

“If a count discrepancy occurs, the perioperative team should follow procedures to locate the missing item. Perioperative leaders may consider the use of adjunct technologies such as bar-code scanning, radio-frequency detection and radio-frequency identification.”

Each article in the Journal’s implementation series features a recommended practices summary that can serve as a reference, a visual aid, a means to resolve disputes and materials to help prepare for the CNOR exam. The guide focuses on a single recommended practice document, describing significant changes, areas of risk or concern, elements of compliance with accreditation and regulatory requirements, and strategies for successful implementation.

To access the guide via subscription or purchase, visit


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