“Audit tedium”

Unfortunately it has been a hellish couple of weeks for me with regards to time, with precious little of it free for voluntary activities like maintaining this website. Apologies for the lack of posts.

It has however made me think a lot about time utilisation….

As junior staff or students in the laboratory or on the wards, I am sure many of us have at some point or other had to trail through hundreds of patient records or lab results, looking to audit some process against a “gold standard”. I know I have been unlucky enough to be subjected to this trauma on occasion. It is almost a rite of passage, bestowed upon us by our well meaning but unsympathetic seniors.

Such note trawling could take many hours, days or even weeks, with the end results often not meriting the effort.

We really need to move away from this era..

Now that more and more laboratory procedures, clinical investigations and treatment modalities are being electronically recorded and coded, we need to think very carefully before undergoing any tedious note trailing exercise.

Wherever possible we should take advantage of electronic coding so that procedures can be audited electronically by data searching. It is infinitely quicker, and more powerful with regards to volumes that can be audited.

My personal mantra is that if something is not electronically coded, it is usually not worth auditing.

…and if it is deemed important enough to audit, then first of all electronically code it, and attempt the audit again after a time period has elapsed.

Note or result trawling should now very much be the exception as opposed to the rule, restricted to “sentinel cases” wherever possible.

Spending days trawling through paper trails should be a thing of the past…

And if you ever get asked to perform (or ask someone else to perform) such an exercise then think very carefully. “Is there an easier way to do this?”


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