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Quality Improvement in Practice

AuditCarrying out a Quality Improvement (QI) activity project enables critical assessment and improvement of the quality of patient care provided. We often learn more from our mistakes than from what we do well. There is always room for improvement, even in procedures where we are highly skilled and competent, and any improvements we implement can both benefit patients and provide us with a sense of achievement and satisfaction. A successful QI activity project can result in a change that improves dental practice.

QI activity can involve an individual examining an aspect of their role (e.g. quality of radiographs). However, a QI activity which involves a team assessing the quality of an activity relevant to them (e.g. decontamination processes), is likely to be more effective in leading to sustained improvement.

A variety of QI methods and tools are available, including:

  • Care bundles
  • Clinical audit
  • enhanced significant event analysis (eSEA)
  • Models for improvement/PDSA Cycles
  • Practice-based research
  • Peer review

Advice and learning resources on quality improvement and enhanced Significant Event Analysis (eSEA) aimed specifically at dental teams is provided by NHS Education for Scotland (NES). NES also provides information on how to plan, carry out, report and claim QI allowance for your QI activity. Once an activity has been approved, you have 6 months to complete it and produce a report (except in the case of eSEA, as the event will already have taken place). Once the report has been reviewed and certified by NES, QI allowance can be claimed from Practitioner Services Division (PSD).

To improve dental practice and comply with your NHS Scotland Terms of Service:

Undertake a minimum of 15 hours of QI activity during each 3-year QI activity cycle. The 15 hours may include up to 5 hours of QI Research activity.

Try to ensure that your QI activity focuses on an issue that is relevant to your needs or the needs of your practice and patients.

Refer to the various resources provided by NHS Education for Scotland for further details on QI methods and tools and how to go about planning, conducting, and claiming allowance for QI activity.