Objective: To audit sore throat management in adults, introduce proforma-based guidelines and to reaudit clinical practice.
Setting: Adult emergency department of an inner city teaching hospital.
Methods: A literature search was carried out to identify relevant guidelines. In stage one, patients presenting to the emergency department with sore throat were identified retrospectively from the emergency department attendance register. Proformas were completed retrospectively. In stage two, new guidelines were introduced and staff educated about the guidelines. In stage three, patients presenting with sore throat were identified at triage and proformas were completed at time of consultation.
Outcome Measures: (1) appropriate clinical assessment of the likelihood of bacterial infection using the clinical scoring system, (2) appropriateness of antibiotic prescription, (3) recommendation of supportive treatments to patients.
Results: Introduction of a clinical scoring system reduced the inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics from 44 per cent to 11 per cent. Correct antibiotic prescription rose from 60 per cent to 100 per cent. Although the variety of advice given about supportive treatment increased, the actual number of patients receiving documented supportive advice fell from 67.8 per cent in stage one to 58 per cent in stage three.
Conclusion: The introduction of clinically based guidelines for the diagnosis and management of sore throat in adults can reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.