Background: Surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with 6-monthly ultrasound is a standard of care for higher-risk patients with viral hepatitis. Adherence to screening guidelines is an important quality indicator in hepatology, but multiple studies have demonstrated poor HCC surveillance practices in real-world settings. Aims: The aim of this project was to audit and then optimise HCC surveillance of viral hepatitis patients, who fulfilled criteria for screening, associated with a large tertiary hospital. Methods:: Clinical practice improvement principles were utilised. A baseline audit of 22 consecutive viral hepatitis patients was performed. Major barriers preventing adequate surveillance were identified and three interventions to improve adherence to guidelines were introduced. These included: improved doctor education, system redesign and improved patient education. The effects of interventions were measured by serial random audits of patients. A final audit occurred over 3 years after the initial baseline audit. Results: At baseline, 46% and 0% of patients had appropriate surveillance performed during the prior 6 months (one surveillance cycle) and 2 years (four surveillance cycles) respectively. Three years after initiation of these strategies, a final audit revealed 92% (vs 46% at baseline) and 64% (vs 0% at baseline) of patients had appropriate HCC surveillance performed during the preceding 6 months and 2 years intervals respectively (P < 0.001 in each case). Conclusions: Simple and low-cost interventions can considerably improve the clinical effectiveness of HCC screening programmes in real world settings. Clinical practice improvement principles appear to be a valid methodology for achieving this positive change.
- Hepatitis C
- Hepatocellular carcinoma