Effective use of an audit tool devised to optimize the management of syphilis in an integrated sexual health clinic

C Knapper, L Furness, M Collett, N Lomax, M Browning
International Journal of STD & AIDS 2011, 22 (5): 290-1
The objective of this study was to audit the management of syphilis in our integrated sexual health clinic according to the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) guideline using the 'Treponemal Infection Care' (TIC) audit tool devised by our clinic. The case notes of patients diagnosed with all stages of syphilis during an 18-month period were reviewed. At the time of diagnosis, the departmental TIC proforma was filled in: this proforma details BASHH auditable outcomes. The case notes of 83 patients diagnosed with syphilis during the audit period were reviewed. The majority of patients were men (76), men who had sex with men (69), HIV-negative (59) and were British (68). In line with current guidance all patients had a baseline Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) titre at the start of treatment (target: 100%) and 97% of diagnosed patients completed treatment (target: 95%). A 'response to treatment' according to the decrease in VDRL was demonstrated in 50 (60%) patients with two (2%) patients failing to respond according to these criteria. However, 19 (23%) patients failed to return for their VDRL tests before demonstrating an adequate response to treatment, despite repeated attempts to contact them by letter and telephone. Fifty-four patients had at least 50% of their partners documented as traceable. Of those who were contactable, 100% attended for screening or treatment (target: 60%). In conclusion, our department performed well against BASHH auditable outcome targets. The introduction of the TIC proforma greatly facilitated the ease of audit and is a valuable tool within our clinic setting, which may have positively influenced our audit outcomes. Further action is required to highlight the importance of follow-up VDRLs to patients.

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