Making sure clinical audit gets done – the administrative side

Although vets are clearly central to the auditing process, an audit team including veterinary nurses and lay staff can also make an enormous contribution.

The auditing process is not a light undertaking, and it may place additional burdens on staff. Support staff in a practice are a source of valuable knowledge, as they have extensive experience that can be used to help smooth the process and make sure all the practicalities of the audit have been addressed. Specific points to be addressed include:

  • Who within the clinic will be responsible for collecting the data?
  • Does an appropriate recording system exist in the practice (e.g. Is a paper-based system most appropriate? Would investing in a computer-based system be easiest?)
  • Who will analyse the audit and make sure all the veterinarians are responsible for keeping good records?
  • Are the results of the audit fit for purpose? With what will you compare the results you generate?
  • How will you disseminate the results, both within and outside the practice?
Example Scenario 1: Dry cow therapy
Rachel has asked the practice administrator to collate the bulk tank SCC and clinical mastitis records of the farms using the new protocol. Rachel will then compare these numbers against the previous records and calculate the cost:benefit of using the new therapy. She will then prepare a report for the veterinarians at the practice, as well as for the farmers on whose operations using the new therapy is expected to be beneficial (both those who have so far adopted the new therapy and those who have not).
Example Scenario 2: Small animal dental imaging
Tom is able to tally the number of teeth removals per dog or cat for the 12 months prior to the installation of the computed radiography system, as well as those for the 12 months after its installation in order to compare them. He can also extract the total cost per dental visit from the system. His trainee vet nurse has designed an owner feedback survey (including key questions about overall demeanour, eating behaviour and breath) as part of her nursing degree course, and has been collating the results of this survey for presentation to the practice partners.