Clinical audit can be defined as: the systematic critical analysis of the quality of medical care, including the procedures used for diagnosis and treatment, the use of resources and the resulting outcome and quality of life for the patient.
This definition is from the government white paper Working for Patients (1989) which marked the increase in clinical audit activity.
Clinical audit is a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change.
Aspects of the structure, processes, and outcomes of care are selected and systematically evaluated against explicit criteria. Where indicated, changes are implemented at an individual, team, or service level, and further monitoring is used to confirm improvement in healthcare delivery.
Below are links to well known resources on clinical audit.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists
Raising the Standard: A compendium of audit recipes (February 2000)
National Electronic Library for Health
Principles for Best Practice in Clinical Audit
Stage One: preparing for audit
Stage Two: selecting criteria
Stage Three: measuring level of performance
Stage Four: making improvements
Stage Five: sustaining improvement
Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Clinical Articles