, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 218-224

Use of an outpatient medical record audit to achieve educational objectives

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Objective:To evaluate the effectiveness of a process whereby a faculty-resident committee annually audits outpatient record keeping and preventive care practices and provides feedback to resident physicians.

Design:Pre- and postfeedback audits with interventions and observations repeated over six consecutive academic years.

Setting:The adult primary care practice of housestaff in a university-affiliated hospital.

Subjects:All 139 physicians in an internal medicine residency program from 1981–82 through 1986–87, of whom 37 were present for three consecutive years.

Intervention:Each year, residents were given individualized, detailed, typewritten feedback based on audits of their outpatient records.

Measurements and main results:Each resident physician had a minimum of four (mean 5.2) outpatient records per year audited against standards for record-keeping practices and the provision of preventive care. Overall performance scores for each resident audit improved from a mean of 39.7±12.3 (SD) in 1981–82 to a mean of 58.5±14.1 (SD) in 1986–87 (possible range 0 to 100, observed range 9.4 to 86.6). The overall performance scores of individual residents, who received two cycles of feedback, improved an average of 11.5 (95% confidence limits 7.6, 15.3), from a mean of 48.4±11.4 (SD) during their first year of residency to 59.8±13.9 (SD) during their third year. General (primary care) and traditional-track residents improved at similar rates, although mean performance scores were consistently higher for general than for traditional-track residents. Analysis of variance revealed that all changes and differences were statistically significant.

Conclusions:An ongoing chart audit and feedback system can be associated with improvements both in the performance of individual residents and in the long-term performance of a residency program.

Supported in part by a residency training grant from the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Services Administration.