HM26b SwabsafesmallCentral Medical Supplies (CMS), a specialist supplier of medical equipment, has joined forces with the Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) to provide advice for safe perioperative practice. CMS is supporting the updated AfPP poster: ‘Accountable items, swab, instrument and needle count’, which gives guidance and recommendations to healthcare practitioners.

The AfPP sets the standards for safe perioperative practice. One of its objectives is to advance health by improving patient care in the surgical setting, through promoting best practice in perioperative care by continuous education and development of healthcare practitioners. The AfPP recommends that there should be standardisation of how countable items are named and referenced in local policy to minimise the risk of confusion. It is imperative for healthcare practitioners to ensure that no harm is caused to patients by negligently leaving foreign objects within patient cavities during clinically invasive procedures.

Unintended retained objects are considered a preventable occurrence in the operating theatre environment. Although UK law does not dictate what system or method of accountable items, swab, instrument, and needles counts should be performed within a perioperative environment, the law is quite clear. All healthcare practitioners have a ‘duty of care’ to patients.

The unintended retention of objects can be significantly reduced through careful counting and documentation for all procedures where countable objects are used. Countable objects are any additional items procured during surgery that have the potential to be retained within a body cavity and can include swabs, instruments and sharps. It is the responsibility of the user to return all items, while the scrub practitioner implements and manages the checking procedure to confirm that all items are accounted for at appropriate points. The count must be audible to those present, one of whom must be an appropriately qualified member of the perioperative team.

CMS committed to effective swab management

CMS is committed to effective swab management. It has developed the Swabsafe swab management system. Swabsafe has been designed to protect the patient, assist in accurate swab counting, and eliminate the risk posed to operating theatre staff by the unnecessary handling of contaminated swabs. Swabsafe complies with health and safety requirements and meets with the Association for Perioperative Practice current guidelines (AfPP 2016) for swab counting.

The system is safe and hygienic, easy to use, and environmentally friendly, as it is made from recyclable materials. Swabsafe reduces the risk of swab-counting errors; eliminates the handling of dirty swabs by theatre staff acting as circulators; makes swab weighing easier, and improves patient safety.

Every day thousands of operations are carried out using thousands upon thousands of swabs. Each operation and the swabs used pose a potential threat to patients but also to staff. The patient is at risk of a swab being left inside the surgical cavity, which can result in infection of the surgical wound and even potentially death.

To obtain a copy of the AfPP poster or for more information on the Swabsafe system, contact Tracey Pavier-Grant, Medical Sales Director at Central Medical Supplies, on 01538 392 596, email or visit

Please visit us on stand 105