Quality Improvement (QI) is “the combined and unceasing efforts of everyone…to make the changes that will lead to better patient outcomes (health), better system performance (care) and better professional development (learning).”
(Batalden PB and Davidoff F. 2007. What is “quality improvement” and how can it transform healthcare? BMJ Quality & Safety 16:2-3)

Veterinary nurses (VNs) play a vital role in QI, including from getting the conversation about QI started in practice, leading and supporting projects, and involving and engaging the team to encourage and embed a learning culture.

QI is about working together, gathering real information from your own practice settings, and identifying practical ways to continuously improve.

The benefits of QI

QI is well established within many industries such as human healthcare and the aviation industry and its benefits are well documented across several clinical and non-clinical scenarios.

In this video, Louise Northway RVN, RCVS Knowledge Quality Improvement Clinical Lead , outlines what QI is and explains the benefits it can bring to veterinary teams.

How can RCVS Knowledge help?

RCVS Knowledge is the RCVS charity partner. Their mission is to advance the quality of veterinary care for the benefit of animals, the public and society. RCVS Knowledge have been working with veterinary teams to create free QI tools and resources to support you in practice. These resources include guidelines, case examples, podcasts, webinars, and courses across a range of areas including,

Visit their dedicated tools and resources page to see them all.

“The CPD and resources are excellent. They provided me with guidance and structure to reflect on what we could be doing differently, and to put a system in place to use current best evidence to continuously improve our practice.” Samantha Thompson, RVN GradDipVN CertVN ECC DET, Linnaeus, Highly Commended RCVS Knowledge Awards 2020

How can you get involved?

  • Start your audit journey with the National Audit for Small Animal Neutering. This simple template can be used to measure your post-operative neutering complications. Just fill in the surgery and outcomes, and the rest is done for you. You can submit your data to contribute to the national benchmark and help improve patient care on a wider scale.
  • Start your patient safety journey by implementing a surgical safety checklist. This manual details the benefits of a checklist, how to successfully implement one within your team, and includes small animal, equine and farm examples for you to use.
  • Sign up for the Canine Cruciate Registry; a registry for the surgical management of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in UK canines. VNs can be main delegates for the veterinary surgeons in practice, taking the lead on data input, reading reports and liaising with the owner about care.
  • Download and use the Peripheral catheter care and phlebitis score checklist. Created by RVNs for the practice team, this checklist can help improve IV care and lead towards a more united approach.

RCVS Knowledge have a wide range of QI tools and resources to offer veterinary nurses

  • Still not sure where to start? Try the QI Boxset; a CPD multimedia toolbox, offering bite-sized content designed with the busy team in mind, for learning at your own time and pace. Register for free at rcvsknowledge.org/learn
  • RCVS Knowledge celebrate excellence in Quality Improvement through the annual Knowledge Awards. You can read about the past winners, and see how they have successfully embedded continuous improvements in their practice.
  • Feeling inspired? Why not apply to the Knowledge Awards yourself? Winners are chosen based on their commitment and dedication to embedding continuous QI and the awards are open to anyone in practice or education settings.
  • Learn more about responsible antimicrobial stewardship by accessing the AMR Hub, offering evidence-based knowledge and resources  to help you tackle antimicrobial resistance in practice.
  • Do you want to meet like-minded people and learn from QI experts? Look out for RCVS Knowledge’s regular online and in-person events.
  • Monthly QI Features delve further into patient safety, clinical human factors, and the principles and associated themes of Quality Improvement.
  • Sign up to RCVS Knowledge’s monthly e-newsletter intheKNOW, to keep up to date with the latest news, evidence and resources.

Quality Improvement provides benefits to your teams, clients, and patients. There are many ways you can join the commitment to QI, which can be either by doing your bit in practice or by working with RCVS Knowledge directly.