Clinical audit is a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change. Aspects of the structure, processes, and outcomes of care are selected and systematically evaluated against explicit criteria. Where indicated, changes are implemented at an individual, team, or service level and further monitoring is used to confirm improvement in healthcare delivery.
National Institute for Clinical Excellence 2009
More simply clinical audit is about:
…improving the quality of patient care by looking at current practice and modifying it where necessary.
Working for Patients 1989
Clinical audit is cyclical process (see figure 1). Within the cycle an issue or problem is identified, criteria and standards are set, and data is collected to measure actual performance. This is then compared to the criteria and standards. If any differences are noted an action plan is created to facilitate changes in practice. Most importantly once the changes have been implemented the cycle begins again with a re-audit to measure the improvements.
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