Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 8--15

How can we improve outcomes for patients and families under palliative care? implementing clinical audit for quality improvement in resource limited settings


King's College London, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, Cicely Saunders Institute, Bessemer Road, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9PJ, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Lucy Selman
King's College London, Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, Cicely Saunders Institute, Bessemer Road, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9PJ
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.63128

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Palliative care in India has made enormous advances in providing better care for patients and families living with progressive disease, and many clinical services are well placed to begin quality improvement initiatives, including clinical audit. Clinical audit is recognized globally to be essential in all healthcare, as a way of monitoring and improving quality of care. However, it is not common in developing country settings, including India. Clinical audit is a cyclical activity involving: identification of areas of care in need of improvement, through data collection and analysis utilizing an appropriate questionnaire; setting measurable quality of care targets in specific areas; designing and implementing service improvement strategies; and then re-evaluating quality of care to assess progress towards meeting the targets. Outcome measurement is an important component of clinical audit that has additional advantages; for example, establishing an evidence base for the effectiveness of services. In resource limited contexts, outcome measurement in clinical audit is particularly important as it enables service development to be evidence-based and ensures resources are allocated effectively. Key success factors in conducting clinical audit are identified (shared ownership, training, managerial support, inclusion of all members of staff and a positive approach). The choice of outcome measurement tool is discussed, including the need for a culturally appropriate and validated measure which is brief and simple enough to incorporate into clinical practice and reflects the holistic nature of palliative care. Support for clinical audit is needed at a national level, and development and validation of an outcome measurement tool in the Indian context is a crucial next step.






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