Trams, trains, planes and automobiles: logistics of conducting a statewide audit of medical records Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper reports on the logistics of conducting a validation study of a routinely collected dataset against medical records at hospitals to inform planning of similar studies.A stratified random sample of 15 hospitals and two homebirth practitioners was included. Site visits were arranged following consent. In addition to the validation of perinatal data, information was collected regarding logistics.Records at 14 metropolitan and rural hospitals up to 500 km from the research centre, and two homebirth practitioners, were audited. Obtaining consent to participate took between 5 days and 10 months. Auditors visited sites on 101 days, auditing 737 medical record pairs at 16 sites. Median audit time per record was 51.3 minutes; electronic records each took 36 minutes longer than paper. Travel time accounted for nearly one-quarter of audit time.Delays obtaining consents, long travel times and electronic records prolonged audit duration and expense. Employment of experts maximised use of available audit time. Conducting a validation study is a time-consuming and expensive exercise; however, confidence in the accuracy of public health data is vital.Validation studies are unquestionably important. Three alternative strategies have been proposed to make future studies viable.

publication date

  • 2016