Use of the CRABEL Score for improving surgical case-note quality

M. Y. Ho, A. R. Anderson, A. Nijjar, C. Thomas, A. Goenka, J. Hossain, Paul J. Curley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Introduction: Quality assurance of medical record keeping in general surgery is facilitated by use of the CRABEL Score. Critical appraisal and constant feedback to staff plays an important part in improving case-note quality. Patients and methods: For each case-note audit, a house officer reviewed two sets of case notes for each of six consultant surgeons. Scores were awarded according to initial clerking, subsequent entries, consent, and discharge summary. Overall scores were derived by subtracting deductions for omissions in each category from a starting score of 100. A larger number of points deducted due to absent data leads to a lower overall score and indicates poorer quality case notes. After four audits, a clerking proforma specifically designed to address some of the common areas of weakness identified in our record keeping was introduced and a further audit was performed in March 2004 to assess its impact. Results: The mean score was lowest in the September 2001 audit and improved over the next two audits. However, there was a small reduction in September 2003 compared to September 2002. When the individual sections of the score were looked at separately, the greatest contribution to a poor score comes from the 'subsequent entries' section since there are five entries scored individually leading to a cumulative effect on the overall score. Within both the 'initial clerking' and 'subsequent entries' sections, early audits showed poor performance across a range of areas but consistent poor implementation of the guidelines was seen in a small number of specific areas as record keeping improved. The quality of medical notes improved over the first three cycles but the improvement was not maintained subsequently. Discussion: The CRABEL score has been shown to be a useful, reproducible and easy-to-perform objective assessment of the quality of medical record keeping. Repeated audit cycles have ensured that case-note quality remains a high priority and have also led to the development of standardised admission documentation. Introduction of the latter has led to a measurable improvement in medical record keeping.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)454-457
    Number of pages3
    JournalAnnals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


    • Audit
    • CRABEL Score
    • Medical records


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