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J Eval Clin Pract. 1998 Feb;4(1):75-83.

The use of clinical audit in evaluating maternity services reform: a critical reflection.

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1
Centre for Midwifery Practice, Wolfson Institute of Health Sciences, Thames Valley University, London, UK.

Abstract

The clinical evaluation described here, using a casenote study, was part of a larger study evaluating the changes made to part of the maternity services in one NHS Trust, in response to the recommendations of Changing Childbirth (Department of Health 1993a). Results of the audit showed no evidence of a lowering of clinical standards within the study group and provided reassurance that a radical change in the model of care, with greatly enhanced continuity of career, an emphasis on community-based and midwifery-led care, and some reductions in labour interventions, could be implemented without compromising safety of care. The audit process raised a number of methodological problems which will need to be addressed in developing audit approaches which are able to reflect quality of care. It is important to recognize that the record of care is not a direct mirror of the care provided but a secondary source, kept for different purposes and designed to cover a different set of priorities from those which audit may seek to capture. The audit approach used in this study will be modified in continuing evaluation of the service as it moves from a pilot stage towards providing a mainstream service. Additional methods, including direct observation of care, will be employed in a sample of cases in order to assist in interpretation of audit findings.

PMID:
9524914
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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