The systematic evaluation of the quality of medical records is crucial. Nevertheless, even if the improvement of medical records quality represents a priority for every health organization, it might be difficult to realize.
This is the first study to assess the efficacy of internal audit as a tool to improve the quality of medical records in hospital setting.
The program was carried out in a third level teaching hospital. Trained ad hoc evaluation teams carried out two retrospective assessments of quality of medical records using a random sampling strategy. The quality assessment was performed using a 48-items evaluation grid divided into 9 domains: General; Patient Medical History and Physical Examination; Daily Clinical Progress Notes; Daily Nursing Progress Notes; Drug Therapy Chart; Pain Chart; Discharge Summary; Surgery Register; Informed Consent. After the first evaluation of 1.460 medical records, an audit departmental program was set up. The second evaluation was carried out after the internal auditing for 1.402 medical records.
Compared to the first analysis, a significant quality amelioration in all the sections of the medical chart was shown with the second analysis, with an increase of all the scores above 50%. The differences found for each section of medical records between the first and second analysis are all significant (p<0.01).
Internal audits are not just measurement activities but a necessary activity to support the organization in achieving its objectives and assessing the quality of clinical care and maintaining high quality professional performance.
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