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J R Soc Med. 1995 Jun;88(6):330-3.

Clinical audit of a specialist symptomatic breast clinic.

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Breast Unit, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London, UK.


The efficient delivery of health care requires vigilant quality assurance. We describe the audit of our symptomatic breast clinic, which includes the option of a one-stop diagnostic service. A total of 134 new and 386 follow-up patients attended over four consecutive clinics. The majority of new referrals (68%) were seen by a consultant surgeon. Urgent referrals were seen significantly sooner than routine referrals (P < 0.001, chi 2-test), and the mean wait from designated appointment to seeing the surgeon was 37.6 (range-68 to 171) min. One-stop investigations were offered to 50 patients; of these, 36 women (72%) had a total wait of less than 2 h. For those not investigated at the same clinic, the mean time until investigations was 6.1 (range 0-36) days and mean recall was 2.7 (range 1-8) weeks. Patients undergoing definitive surgery for cancer (n = 5) were operated on average 14.2 (range 7-27) days after the decision was made in outpatients, while the mean waiting time for non-cancer operations was 49.7 (range 15-98) days. Objective audit on outpatient services is possible and can lead to improvement of services.

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