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Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)

Use of PDSA cycles is a way of testing an idea by putting a change into effect on a temporary basis and learning from its potential impact. This is quite different from the approach traditionally used in the healthcare setting, where new ideas are often introduced without sufficient testing.

There are four stages to a PDSA cycle:


Plan the change to be tested or implemented.


Carry out the test or change.


Study data before and after the change and reflect on what was learnt.


Plan the next change cycle or plan implementation.

A PDSA cycle involves testing the improvement ideas on a small scale before introducing the change. By building on the learning from the test cycles in a structured and instrumental way, a new idea can be implemented with greater chance of success.

Flow Diagram