Counts/Retained Surgical Items

Get clinical answers to frequently asked questions about counts and 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.