Understanding Clinical Governance

Clinical Governance has come to be a discipline of healthcare. It may be said to have originated in the UK in the mid-1990's following the outbreak of the Bristol heart scandal, at which it was discovered that lackadaisical approach on the part of the medical team that performed pediatric cardiac surgery resulted in too many avoidable deaths of young patients.

This was happening mainly because of the sheer lack of accountability among the doctors who performed these surgeries. This scandal, which made the headlines globally, was to pave the way for an evolved approach to clinical care - Clinical Governance.

What is Clinical Governance?

Since Clinical Governance was born in relation to a clearly identifiable situation, it was not difficult for the UK National Health Service (NHS) to define its idea of Clinical Governance:

"A framework through which NHS organisations are accountable for continually improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish."

So, into this definition, three key components can be attributed:


Global impact on healthcare

Soon, Clinical Governance came to be adapted across the developed world and in other parts of the world because of the precision with which it was formulated. Today, in most parts of the west, Clinical Governance is a major component of healthcare. This is a major step towards ensuring health and clinical care for millions of patients with various kinds of ailments.

Elements of Clinical Governance

Clinical Governance consists of the following elements:

  • Education and Training: Physicians and other caregivers are required to constantly upgrade their skills and education in tune with the latest developments happening in their profession
  • Clinical audit: Clinical audit is a core component of Clinical Governance. Clinical audit is the continuous and constant review and assessment of clinical performance. Clinical Governance lays out steps and methods by which this is to be carried out
  • Clinical effectiveness: The best test of a process is the clinical effectiveness it brings about. This attribute of Clinical Governance lays stress on clinical effectiveness without compromising on safety
  • Research and Development: Medical science thrives on R and D. It should be the constant endeavor of Clinical Governance to inculcate research and development into their discipline, as this can lead to enhanced research and eventually, better patient outcomes
  • Openness: Transparency is at the center of Clinical Governance, as has been described from its history. It evolved entirely on the need for bringing about openness in the areas of healthcare
  • Risk management: Any process or development is fraught with some or another risk, to some or another degree. Clinical Governance suggests that while risks cannot be eliminated, they need to be identified and minimized, through the application of risk management techniques and processes. Risk has to be assessed and minimized in relation to risks to patient, risk to the practitioner, and risk to the healthcare setting
  • Information Management: It goes without saying that information management is also one of the major components of Clinical Governance. This is because automation goes a long way in ensuring adherence to protocols and processes, which can get overlooked by human error. Putting a sound health information management system can drastically enhance the quality of Clinical Governance.