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Patients with acute stroke have better outcomes in terms of survival or regaining independence if they receive organized inpatient care in a specific setting (Stroke Unit, SU) where a coordinated multidisciplinary team can ensure the best level of care. The clinical governance of an SU requires a systematic monitoring of diagnostic, clinical and therapeutic processes through a structured audit. The entire project and set up of a new SU in Bentivoglio, Italy, were based on a model that focused on multidisciplinary teamwork and clinical governance. An audit based on the Benjamin audit cycle followed every step of the set up of the new SU. Markers from national and international guidelines and from the Italian Regional Audit, together with a specific database were used. The audit showed a high level of care and a significant improvement in the majority of clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic parameters. Only a few markers (i.e. waiting times for ultrasound tomography and prescription of oral anticoagulation therapy) required specific projects in order to improve the results. Our experience confirmed that a structured audit can support clinical governance of an SU by monitoring clinical processes and quality of care. Such an audit involves the whole professional team and shows the effects of any single actions. It also helps integration and co-operation among staff. Furthermore, a structured audit is a useful instrument for professional accountability for both qualitative and quantitative aspects of care.
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