NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) defines a clinical audit as follows:
Audit in healthcare is a process used by health professionals to assess, evaluate and improve care of patients in a systematic way. Audit measures current practice against a defined (desired) standard. It forms part of clinical governance, which aims to safeguard a high quality of clinical care for patients
Recently I’ve had several requests regarding how to audit occupational health practice. The first question to me was 'How on earth do you audit an occupational health service which has never had an audit before? Where do you start?'
Here I take you through a simple and pragmatic way of auditing an occupational health service to improve consistency and quality over your whole organisation or maybe just one process which needs modifying.
Audit is a daunting task if you’ve never done it before but if you use a stepped approach, it becomes simpler. The hardest part being the planning. If you’ve audited nothing before in your organisation, start with something simple and small.
The fours steps are:
1. Planning the audit,
2. Doing the audit,
3. Checking against the standards and
4. Action, that is, correcting all the things you've discovered aren't compliant with what you wanted.
To illustrate my four step approach, I will go through a clinical notes audit because every OH service keeps clinical notes and, being a paper exercise, will not interfere with day to day work.
Download the Free Notes Audit Checklist here
Read the full article which accompanies this podcast with much more detail here.
Further Reading/Resources to help with Audit: