In the UK, all dentists working in the NHS are required to carry out clinical audits.
The aim of a clinical audit is to improve patient treatment by improving professional practice and the quality of services delivered.
This is achieved through a continuous process whereby healthcare professionals review patient care against agreed standards and make changes, where necessary, to meet those standards. The audit is then repeated to see if the changes have been made and the quality of patient care improved. This is often called the audit cycle or spiral.
Clinical audit identifies and promotes good clinical practice, provides training and education opportunities, helps to ensure better use of resources, can improve working relationships, communication and liaison between staff and patients. It is important not to confuse audit and research.