Unit 5. Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement
Quality Assurance & Quality Improvement

Section 3. Measuring to Improve Quality

Applying Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement Principles in the Dental Clinic

QA/QI is a necessary part of the operations of any health care organization, including dental clinics, regardless of whether the organization seeks accreditation. QA/QI is an ongoing process that should be integrated into every system and process of the clinic so that it becomes the normal way of doing business rather than just a paperwork burden. QA/QI requires the participation and input of everyone working in the clinic and is best conducted through team-related activities. While some processes need to be monitored on a regular basis (e.g., daily, weekly, quarterly), all functions of the clinic should be reviewed at least annually to ensure that they are performed according to QA/QI plans, strategic plans, or other organizational objectives.

No administrative body can guarantee through quality-assurance reviews or peer-review evaluations that standards of care are being met on a patient-by-patient, procedure-by-procedure, or day-by-day basis. Even in the presence of efficient and effective processes and systems, the maintenance of professional standards of care rests with the health professional. However, even the most highly skilled and ethical health professionals cannot provide the highest possible quality of services unless the policies, processes, and systems under which they work support that level of care.