Audit - A Recipe for Improving Healthcare of Children and Young People
Mary Desmond Vasseghi talks about her experience with and the importance of Clinical Audit
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Isn’t it just lovely when you try out a new recipe, exciting dish or delicious cake? You taste it, critique it, talk about possible improvements for next time. You then make those changes and it’s even better! Yes, we all carry out that same process without thinking about it in so many aspects of our lives. We conduct audits all the time.
Now, imagine my surprise when I was asked to join the National Paediatric Mortality Registry group and discovered the registry was only being set up. Without such a registry, how can we know how many children are dying or the circumstances of their deaths? How can we even hope to reduce the risk of this happening? How can we conduct such essential audits?
This basic information is essential to understand what causes children and young people’s deaths. We need a reliable reporting system and national data base. Only then, can we really understand the causes and solutions to reduce deaths and increase the protection and lives of our children.
I lost my eighteen year old son to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) in 2005. Back then, we did not know how many children were dying from SADS .Since then, we have gained that knowledge and used it to apply several measures to reduce these sad events. For, example screening clinics and knowledge of CPR defibrillators will greatly help our cause. Collecting and examining the facts led to our understanding of the why and what needed to be done. Now, lives are being saved every single day.
Another example of the importance of audit is a disease called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC). TSC causes tumours to grow throughout the body and affects approx. 700 people in Ireland. There are international guidelines which define how TSC should be managed. However, we were unaware of what extent these were being followed. So, as part of my PhD I worked with the epilepsy nurses in the neurological services around the country and carried out a clinical audit to measure care against those international guidelines. Although this was not a NOCA audit, it brought to light the great work that is happening within the services, identified areas for enhancement and has resulted in improvement in practice.
Such basic information is vital for patients and clinicians. With audit, everything becomes transparent. Everybody can see what is happening, resulting in increased confidence and trust in services and between people.
Audit. Audit. Audit. Without it, how can improvement and progress happen?
Mary Desmond Vasseghi
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