Clinical audit compares practice with guidelines. It investigates whether processes are being carried out correctly and helps to identify reasons for failure. Clinical audit does not create new knowledge and it is based on the comparison of practice against standards. It is usually small scale over a short time period and results are usually relevant to the local area in which it is performed.
Useful information on clinical audit is available in a series of leaflets produced by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT):
- Quick Guide to Clinical Audit in NHSBT
- The Difference between Clinical Audit and Research
- How to identify Clinical Audit Topics
- Clinical Audit Ethics and Confidentiality
- How to Set Aims and Objectives
- How to Develop Audit Standards
- How to Select an Audit Sample
- How to Collect Clinical Audit Data
- How to Analyse Clinical Audit Data
- How to Present Clinical Audit Data
- How to Improve Practice Through Change
These leaflets are available at hospital.blood.co.uk/library/Publications/index.asp
A definition of Clinical Audit
"Clinical Audit is a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review (of the structure, process and outcomes) of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change..."
National Institute of Clinical Excellence 2002
National Comparative Audit of Blood Transfusion
This is a programme of high-profile clinical audits that aims to look at the quality of the administration of blood to patients, and also at the practice of prescribing blood and blood components. Each year NHS Blood and Transplant, in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians, sets out a programme of national audits which hospitals are invited to participate in. Following analysis of the data collected, the national results (hospitals anonymised) are published along with any recommendations. In addition, each participating hospital is given their individual data results, so enabling more specific feedback to clinicians, thus tailoring recommendations on improving practice.
To find out which audits are ongoing, which have been completed, to download reports and generally learn more go to: hospital.blood.co.uk/safe_use/clinical_audit/National_Comparative
BeST - Better Safer Transfusion
Better Safer Transfusion is the government programme for improving the quality of hospital transfusion care to patients in the state of Victoria, Australia. It involves regular audits that UK practitioners may be interested in. More information can be found at: www.health.vic.gov.au/best/audit
Blood Stocks Management Scheme
The Blood Stocks Management Scheme (BSMS) was developed in order to understand, and achieve improvements in, blood stock management. Established in 2001, hospitals and Blood Centres from England, Wales and Northern Ireland participate.
Read more at: www.bloodstocks.co.uk