Background: Quality assurance (QA) of echocardiographic studies is vital to ensure that clinicians can act on findings of high-quality to deliver excellent patient care. To date there is a paucity of published guidance on how to perform this QA. The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has previously produced an Echocardiography Quality Framework (EQF) to assist departments with their QA processes. This article expands on the EQF with a structured yet versatile approach on how to analyse echocardiographic departments to ensure high-quality standards are met. In addition, a process is detailed for departments that are seeking to demonstrate to external bodies adherence to a robust QA process.
Methods: The EQF consists of four domains. These include assessment of: Echo Quality (including study acquisition and report generation); Reproducibility and Consistency (including analysis of individual variability when compared to the group and focused clinical audit), Education and Training (for all providers and service-users) and Customer Satisfaction (of both service-users and patients/their carers). Examples of what could be done in each of these areas are presented. Furthermore, evidence of participation in each domain is categorised against a red, amber or green rating: with an amber or green rating signifying that a quantifiable level of engagement in that aspect of QA has been achieved.
Conclusion: The proposed EQF is a powerful tool that focuses the limited time available for departmental QA on areas of practice where a change in patient experience or outcome is most likely to occur.