ACORN Practice Audit Tools (PATs)

ACORN Practice Audit Tools

Running parallel to our work on developing standards and audit tools with our perioperative nursing colleagues in the Pacific, is our work with ACORN in developing practice audit tools. These are based on the ACORN standards and provide a series of tools with which to measure workplace compliance.

The first bundle is now complete – those of you who attended the ACORN Conference workshops would have noted that three of the five (perioperative attire, asepsis and infection prevention, gowning and gloving) Practice Audit Tools (PATs) were available to purchase. The final two – specimen identification, collection, handling and perioperative patient skin antisepsis were in their final stages of piloting.  The whole bundle is now available for purchase and we are making good progress with developing

Bundle 2 PATs:

  1. Documentation
  2. Surgical safety
  3. Medication safety
  4. Management of sharps in the perioperative environment
  5. Positioning the patient for surgery and Safe patient and manual handling
  6. Management of accountable items used during surgery and procedures
  7. Surgical plume and Electrosurgical equipment

We are working closely with the members of the ACORN Standards Committee to ensure all aspects are included as well as ACORN members who have volunteered to pilot the PATs. The feedback we gain from the piloting is invaluable at ‘tweaking’ the PATs so that they are practical and easy to use. We plan to have Bundle 2 completed by Christmas.

If you have not yet purchased Bundle 1, give serious consideration to doing so. The PATs provide, for the first time in Australia, a coordinated approach to auditing perioperative nursing practice. I am sure many of you already undertake some kind of auditing process which is great and the ACORN PATS can only add to that good work. Apart from providing a picture of how well (or not!) your facility is complying with ACORN Standards, when accreditation time rolls around, you will be able to demonstrate your compliance by producing the data and results. These can be very powerful evidence for surveyors as it demonstrates your compliance with national perioperative standards.

When you purchase the PATs, you receive:

  • a two-year licence (price varies depending on size of your facility)
  • 12 individual PATs (five in bundle 1 and seven in bundle 2)
  • a hard copy ‘master’ booklet for each of the 12 PATs (additional hard copies can be purchased)
  • an electronic ‘soft’ copy booklet for each of the 12 PATs – used to enter the data into excel spreadsheets and generate results in chart form
  • access to training webinars

There are two webinars which Sally and I have undertaken with ACORN where we introduce the PATs in the first webinar, entitled ‘Do you see what I see’ and in the second webinar entitled, ‘Does it all add up’ we explain how to enter the audit data collected and generate results. These are both available for viewing on the ACORN website – We plan to add a third webinar where we will look more at the data and how it can be used to change practice. In the Audit Tools section on the ACORN website there are a number of FAQs and also the opportunity for you to ask questions and give comment about the PATs.

Our Pacific perioperative nursing colleagues are a few steps ahead of us and have been conducting workplace audits for the past year. The generally positive audit results has given them confidence that their practice is meeting standards and in areas where the audit results have  not been so good, they have taken active steps to change practice. Anectodal evidence from Australian surgical teams who visit many of the Pacific island countries has indicated a marked improvement in standards within the perioperative environment. We can learn a great deal from the Pacific experience and ACORN is to be congratulated for not only supporting the work in the Pacific, but taking the historic step in developing PATs for Australian perioperative nurses.