We aimed to compare the practice of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in Scotland with the recommendations of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, to determine the characteristics of patients who receive ECT, to assess the outcome of ECT given in a routine clinical setting and to develop a system of quality assurance for ECT. Between February 1997 and March 2000, an audit of ECT measured the quality of treatment given at all clinics in Scotland. Audit tools were designed and standards set for the process, and outcome of treatment and interventions were identified to address any variance prior to each audit cycle. An electronic data collection system was developed and a website produced for the purpose of continued audit and information sharing.
The annual rate of ECT in Scotland was 142 individual treatments per 100 000 of the total population. Electroconvulsive therapy was given mainly to White adult patients with a depressive illness who had consented to treatment. Clinical improvement, as measured by at least a 50% reduction in the Montgomery–Åsberg Rating Scale for Depression (MADRS) score, was evident in 71.2% of patients with a depressive episode.
The audit of ECT is achievable at a national level, ECT is effective in a routine clinical setting and the standards at ECT in Scotland are higher than the UK average.
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