Five steps to ensure dental audit improves your practice


For immediate release: Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dental audits need not be a box-ticking exercise, says UK-wide dental defence organisation MDDUS.

MDDUS dental adviser Claire Renton reminds dentists that audits offer a genuine opportunity to improve the efficient running of a practice and ease the strain on busy workloads.

Mrs Renton says: “Many dentists may ask if there is any real benefit of an audit? Is it something dentists do simply because they are obliged to do so?”

MDDUS has highlighted five key steps of an audit that can improve the way dentists carry out their day-to-day tasks.

1) Find a topic relevant to you
“This is an opportunity for dentists to identify something that they want to improve within their working day,” says Mrs Renton. “Don’t fall into the trap of auditing something without having a genuine benefit that it can be achieved as a result of the audit.

“It could be those ‘failed to attend’ patient appointments. All dentists have had a situation where they have set up for a crown prep with impression trays at the ready, retraction cord found, X-rays checked and the patient doesn’t turn up.

“So perhaps a project about patients failing to attend might just be the answer. This can not only save the practice money, but fewer missed appointments means greater availability for other patients.”

2) Setting standards
The next step in the audit process is to define the criteria and standard. “This is relatively easy to do if you chose a clinical audit,” says Mrs Renton. “For example, all dentists are familiar with the idea that 70 per cent of X-rays should ideally be grade one, 20 per cent grade two and 10 per cent grade three.

“With regards to evidence of current medical history in the records, you might want to aim high and set a target of 100 per cent. The standard should be set for your audit project at an early stage, keeping in mind the quality of patient care should be high for all patients but also that these high standards must be achievable.”

3) Data collection
Next, dentists must decide what data they are going to collect. “The simplest way is to produce a spreadsheet and fill the data as you go,” says Mrs Renton. “Any data collected from dental records should be verifiable, so while you might wish to exclude personal data such as the patient’s name, it is sensible to develop a code so data can be easily checked at a later date if need be.”

4) Making the change
Once the audit has been submitted for approval and funding, the next step is to establish a baseline in your audit. “This can be done by collecting the initial round of data and then comparing the baseline data to the standard you set and want to achieve,” adds Mrs Renton.

“At this point, you’re now in a position to make the change. This is the step that requires the most thought. Making the right change in the right way will make all the difference. If any actions involve other staff in the practice, then get them on board with your idea and encourage them to seen how practice life and patient care will be enhanced.

“It is important, of course, to check that the change you have made has been effective so it is necessary to collect another round of data to prove that things have improved. You should wait at least three months before you carry out the second round of data collection, although this can vary depending on the project.”

5) Final verdict
“The next and final stage involves analysing the second round of data and evaluating if you have met the target of your audit and then producing and submitting your audit report.

“Hopefully the improvements made will reflect in the running of your dental practice and benefit patients and the rest of the dental team.”


For further information contact Richard Hendry on 0845 270 2034 or 07976 272266, or email

Note to editors

MDDUS (The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) is a medical and dental defence organisation providing access to professional indemnity and expert medico- and dento-legal advice for doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals throughout the UK. For further information on MDDUS go to

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

For registration, or any login issues, please visit our login page.