Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to compare data collected by automated form processing with manual data collection for clinical indicators (CIs) in paediatric emergency medicine. Design/methodology/approach: Paediatric patients presenting with croup, asthma, bronchiolitis, head injury and gastroenteritis in August 2006 were identified by ICD 9 coding and a traditional manual audit was performed by two data collectors. Data were collected on a total of 16 CIs for these five illnesses. Manual audit data were then compared to information collected for this same patient population using TELEform, an automated forms processing (AFP) system that had been employed for over two years. Findings: Teleform data were only available for 24 patients compared to information for 127 patients identified by ICD 9 coding and manual audit. Teleform data overestimated compliance with clinical guidelines by 17 percent giving an overall departmental agreement with CIs of 90.6 percent compared to 73.5 percent in the manual audit. Additionally, manual audit demonstrated that when the clinical guideline was incorporated into the clinical record, compliance was 92.5 percent compared to 51.3 percent when it was not. Originality/value: This single center study demonstrates that data collected by AFP such as TELEform, overestimate emergency department performance regarding CIs compliance. Departments that use automated data collection tools need to establish relationships between such data and data collected via more traditional auditing methods.
International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance Vol. 21, Issue 7, p. 671-678