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Counts/Retained Surgical Items

When should counts of soft goods be performed?


Counts of soft goods should be performed:

  • Before the procedure to establish a baseline and identify manufacturing packaging errors (ie, initial count)
  • When new items are added to the field
  • Before closure of a cavity within a cavity (eg, uterus)
  • When wound closure begins
  • At skin closure at the end of the procedure or at the end of the procedure when counted items are no longer in use (ie, final count) and
  • At the time of permanent relief of either the scrub person or the RN circulator, although direct visualization of all items may not be possible.


Recommended practices for prevention of retained surgical items. In: Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc; 2013:305-322.

Updated January 28, 2013 

Guidelines for Perioperative Practice


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