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20 September 2011
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Q. I already undertake audit as part of my work under the Methadone Treatment Protocol or a Diabetes Group/Project or Cervical Screening or LARC. Can I use this as my audit activity for professional competence?

A. Firstly, you should ensure that this is truly an audit and therefore there is a comparison to an existing guideline (e.g. the methadone treatment guidelines and the LARC protocols) and that criteria have been stated against which practice is being measured.

Audits such as these are externally administered and hence much of the work is taken out of the process for you as the criteria, standard and data collection tool is already created for you. However, when data is leaving the practice for external use/publication, you should ensure that the appropriate ethical approval is in place. The key issues in using these audits for your professional competence requirements are that you must have access to your own data and you must develop an action plan for your practice based on these results, which you implement and then re-audit (the quality improvement activity and re-audit aspects are not always part of such external audits). As these audits are usually quiet extensive, you may wish not to consider all of the criteria used in the full external audit in terms of your action plan and re-audit.

Source: ICGP Director of Research