OBJECTIVE: To establish a system of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) which does not require substantial resources in a clinical setting. SETTING: A busy department of obstetrics and gynaecology. METHODS: The system is based on seven elements: (i) comprehensive accumulation of data; (ii) involvement of all faculty members and the majority of residents; (iii) continuous monitoring of processes within the organization; (iv) application of clinical indicators; (v) file review system; (vi) task force approach for evaluation of processes within the organization; and (vii) intervention measures. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Quality of contents of files and documentation, satisfaction of customers (patients, family members), trends of clinical indicators, effect of task force work, incidence of complaints. RESULTS: Inadequate documentation was noted in 14.6% before, and 4% 1 year after the initiation of the CQI program. Task force work in a variety of projects led to a substantial improvement in measured outcome. The absolute and relative numbers of complaints against the department decreased from 44 in 1993, to 27 in 1994, 20 in 1995 and 16 in 1996. In terms of the percentage of complaints directed against the hospital these figures represent 12.4, 9.6, 6.9 and 5.4% for 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 respectively. CONCLUSION: Our proposed CQI system has proved to be highly efficient and requires only minimal additional resources.
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