Review is an essential component of ensuring quality. Structured review leading to change is an essential part of quality improvement. Systematic clinical audit is an ideal tool for structured review. It is familiar to many as a chore, a paper exercise or something done to satisfy others. Done well it is rewarding for both health professionals and support staff and leads to better care for patients. It is a core component of proving to yourself and others that quality assurance is part of professional life. It can be evidence of continuing professional development and is important and useful material for appraisal.
Clinical audit is at the heart of clinical governance.
It provides the mechanisms for reviewing the quality of care provided to patients.
It builds on a long history of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals reviewing case notes and seeking ways to serve their patients better.
It addresses quality issues systematically and explicitly, providing reliable information.
It encourages the development and use of agreed criteria and standards.
It can confirm the quality of clinical services and highlight the need for improvement. (NICE 2002).
The aim of this electronic audit learning aid.
All general practitioners should be monitoring and, where necessary improving the quality of care they provide.
This audit guide will encourage reflective practice and develop the auditing skills and understanding required for appraisal, revalidation, practice accreditation, National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) guidance and contractual obligations under the GP contract.
Audit is most effective when it is relevant to everyday work, simple as possible in design and amenable to change.
It should be based on the best available current evidence.