Doctors under the microscope: the birth of medical audit

William John Jackson, Audrey Sadie Paterson, Chris Pong, Simona Scarparo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    In 1989 a UK government White Paper introduced medical audit as a comprehensive and statutory system of assessment and improvement in quality of care in hospitals. A considerable body of research has described the evolution of medical audit in terms of a struggle between doctors and National Health Service managers over control of quality assurance. In this paper we examine the emergence of medical audit from 1910 to the early 1950s, with a particular focus on the pioneering work of the American surgeons Codman, MacEachern and Ponton. It is contended that medical professionals initially created medical audit in order to articulate a suitable methodology for assessing individual and organisational performance. Rather than a means of protecting the medical profession from public scrutiny, medical auditing was conceived and operationalised as a managerial tool for fostering the active engagement of senior hospital managers and discharging public accountability. These early debates reveal how accounting was implicated in the development of a system for monitoring and improving the work of medical professionals, advancing the quality of hospital care, and was advocated in ways, which included rather than excluded managers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-47
    JournalAccounting History Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    Dive into the research topics of 'Doctors under the microscope: the birth of medical audit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this