Monitoring the care of lung cancer patients: linking audit and care pathways


Correspondence DrE.Kaltenthaler School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) University of Sheffield Regent Court 30 Regent Street Sheffield S1 4DA UK


Clinical audit plays an important role in monitoring the provision of care for patients whatever their condition. Care pathways define the steps and expected course of events in the care of patients with a specific clinical problem over a set time scale. This paper describes a study undertaken in a multisite cancer unit to develop a tool for monitoring the progress of lung cancer patients through a care pathway and auditing key standards within the pathway. Important issues associated with the development of this tool are highlighted. The process of developing this tool involved the following steps: a review of the literature dealing with the management of lung cancer patients; interviews with key personnel in primary, secondary, tertiary and palliative care; development of a paper-based series of forms representing key steps in the patient’s care pathway; 3-month trial of the paper-based tool; analysis of completion rates and interviews with form users to evaluate effectiveness; and recommendations for creating an electronic record using the experience and lessons learned from the paper version. The paper forms developed through this multistage process were found to be acceptable to users and have the potential to provide accurate information at key points for audit throughout the patient’s time within the health-care system for their lung cancer condition. The flexibility of this methodology allows it to be adapted readily to a variety of clinical situations and conditions.