This prospective service evaluation was designed to assess the availability of critical information required in vascular surgical clinics. All the data was collected via a repeated questionnaire, and the outcomes from each cycle were used to highlight where intervention was required to improve the surgical clinic experience. The first audit identified outpatient clinic deficiencies and allowed for problem analysis. Two Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycles then were undertaken. Interventions following each cycle included consultant access to online duplex scans and secretarial access to referral letters. Results from the first cycle showed that approximately 20% of clinic appointments were missing information and only 30% of these issues were resolved during the clinic using a work around. Following the first intervention; the numbers of missing patient notes reduced to 4.3% (10.5%), and referral letters to 3.6% (4.6%). Although the numbers of missing duplex scan results increased to 6.5% (3.3%), the new system of online scan results allowed for all scans to be accessed during the clinic. Following results of a second PDCA cycle, vascular surgical secretaries were given access to 'choose and book', a database of GP referral letters. Post intervention, all missing referral letters (2%) could be accessed immediately within the clinic setting. Data driven interventions and repeated PDCA cycles can improve hospital systems for minimal cost. With an annual clinic turnaround of 2500 patients, these interventions can reduce clinic delays and potential harm caused by unavailable records for up to 500 patients a year.
BMJ Qual Improv Rep