The purpose of clinical audit is to improve patient care and safety, and to give GPs and other health professionals an opportunity for reflection on practice.
In the Medical Council’s Professional Competence guidance booklet, clinical audit is defined as the “systematic review and evaluation of current practice with reference to research based standards [and designed] to improve patient care”. The setting of standards, the measurement of practice compared to a ‘gold standard’, the identification of deficiencies and addressing deficiencies (closing the loop) are the accepted components of clinical audit.
Clinical audit has three elements:
1. Measurement – measuring a specific element of clinical practice
2. Comparison – comparing results with the recognized standard/guideline
3. Evaluation – reflecting on outcome of audit and where indicated, changing practice accordingly
To meet the requirements of the Medical Council rules of professional competence, every practicing GP in Ireland to conduct at least one audit per year.
PREPARED has published a Guide to Clinical Audit of Dementia Care in General Practice to aid GPs and primary care professionals to design and undertake an audit.