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Clinical audit

What is clinical audit?

Definition endorsed by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Clinical audit is a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review against explicit criteria and the implementation of change. Aspects of the structure, processes, and the outcome of care 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 the healthcare delivery.

In other words

Clinical audits monitor the use of particular interventions, the care received by patients or the outcome of interventions and treatments, against agreed standards. Any departures from 'best practices' can then be examined in order to understand and act upon the causes.

What is clinical effectiveness?

Clinical effectiveness includes the provision of care in accordance with high quality evidence-based clinical guidelines. The evaluation of practice through the use of clinical audit or outcome measures can lead to further improvement in the quality of care.

Other ways of evaluating clinical effectiveness is by:

  • Data collection projects
  • Benchmarking
  • Surveys
  • Service evaluation

Clinical Audit Annual Reports

Clinical Audit Annual Report 2013/14 
Clinical Audit Annual Report 2011/12 
Clinical Audit Annual Report 2010/11 
Clinical Audit Annual Report 2009/10 

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Clinical audit at Papworth Hospital

Papworth Hospital has a strong programme of clinical audit, undertaking many audits each year and presenting the results back to clinicians during the monthly hospital-wide audit meeting.

All qualified clinicians take part in audit and dedicated time is set aside every month for this. The meetings are attended by a range of staff who together agree any recommendations that might help to improve the delivery of services or the outcomes of treatment. Audit projects are often suggested by front-line clinicians, who are well-placed to suggest topic areas that can bring about lasting benefit for patients. The hospital also undertakes individual review of patient care following surgical death, to confirm that all treatment was appropriate.

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Do patients’ views influence the clinical audit programme?

Any trends noted from the complaints or adverse event reporting systems are fed into the audit programme. For example, if we were to receive several similar complaints about the quality of clinical care, Papworth Hospital would then undertake a formal audit of practice in that area to review whether standards are being met, whether there are staff who might benefit from additional training or supervision or if there are system faults that hamper the delivery of high standards.

We welcome your comments regarding clinical audit projects. If you have a suggestion about an aspect of clinical treatment that you feel should be audited, please forward it to We will take your suggestion to the Hospital's Audit Steering Group for consideration.

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