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Dental mythbuster 17: Audits in primary care dental services

  • Organisations we regulate

Audits form part of the quality assurance system and risk management system.

Why audit is important

Audits help identify if best practice is being followed; highlighting if improvements are needed to address shortfalls in the delivery of care.

Clinical audit, as defined by Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and endorsed by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is: ‘… a quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care and the implementation of change.’ Clinical audits are central to effective quality assurance.

CQC expects providers of primary care dental services to conduct clinical and other relevant audits to:

Providers may also be required to conduct particular audits as part of their local contractual arrangements with NHS England.

What we look for on inspection

We expect providers to demonstrate they have implemented a series of clinical and practice audits as recommended by nationally recognised guidance.

Practices must do these audits:

  • Infection prevention and control: Establish and operate a quality assurance system that covers the use of effective measures of decontamination and infection control. Complying with HTM01-05 (Decontamination in primary care dental practices) shows there are valid quality assurance systems in place. As a minimum, practices should audit their decontamination processes every six months, with an appropriate review dependent on audit outcomes. The Infection Prevention Society audit tool could be used.
  • X-rays: Current regulations for using ionising radiation for medical and dental purposes (both IRR99 and IR(ME)R2000) place a legal responsibility to establish and maintain quality assurance programmes for dental radiology. The consistent quality of radiographs must be assured through audit. There is an example audit under 'selection criteria for dental radiography 9.2.1' on the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) Standards in Dentistry online.
  • Accessibility: All organisations providing services to the public must audit their facilities and ensure they comply with the Equality Act 2010.

Practices should do these audits:

Consider the audit topics described in the:

Last updated:
28 September 2018


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