Clinical audit in the veterinary world

One thing to be very careful about in comparing the audit process in veterinary medicine to the audit process in human medicine, is that there are many fewer practice guidelines in veterinary medicine.

In many realms of veterinary medicine, there may be no identifiable standards for what veterinarians do, so, in many situations, we need to rely on developing evidence-based standards (Mair 2006). In essence, although the primary aim of clinical audit is not research, we are often forced down the research route in order to identify appropriate standards for our specific clinical audit (e.g. by carrying out service evaluations or surveys of our performance). Either way, these processes can still become a part of the clinical audit cycle (see below).

Although audit is valuable, there does have to be a balance struck between increasing workload and management, and the benefit gained from the process of auditing. This balance can be achieved by ensuring you are assessing the right areas of your practice (for more information, see below).

Clinical audit cycle

The audit cycle or loop, adapted from Viner and Jenner (2005) and Mair (2006)