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The Bath Audit Course

the most simple way of understanding audit

04 Setting Criteria

Both the Criteria and Standards define what should be happening.  


Try defining what an audit criterion is.

  • How does it compare with this one?
  • “An audit criterion is a specific statement of what should be happening.”


“All eligible women aged 25-65 should have had a cervical smear in the last 5 years.”

“All asthmatics should have had a Peak Flow recorded in the past year.”

“All drugs in our doctors’ bags should be in-date.”


  • Make sure that there is evidence for your criterion – do a literature search.
  • Ensure that the criterion is measurable –
        • “asthmatics should have had yearly PFs” is difficult to measure (how many years will you go back?);
        • “asthmatics should have had a PF recorded in the past year” is more practical.
  • For quickest results, make sure that what you are doing is fairly easy to measure, e.g. is Read or SNOMED coded,
        • though don’t let other data-gathering methods put you off if you you’re really interested in the subject
  • Think about how reliably all the points in your criteria are coded. In the second example above, how confident can you be that all your asthmatics are coded? You may need to do some cross-checking – for example, searching for patients using inhalers who aren’t coded as being asthmatic.
  • Don’t try to audit too many criteria at once – one or two will keep you busy enough.
  • Try filling in the gaps of the following phrase to set your audit criterion:
        • “All patients with xxxxx should have had a xxxxx in the last xxxxx.”

The Bath Audit Course, Designed by Dr Michael Harris (Bath)

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