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Patient Safety/Quality

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Conference participants focus on the role of nursing in health care quality improvement

A conference held in April, 2002, focused on the strengths of and gaps in contributions of nursing to health care quality. Interdisciplinary experts from nursing, health services research, policy, and communications addressed methods, tools, technology, data resources, and policies that could further clarify nursing as a major player in national quality improvement initiatives. A supplement to the February 2004 issue of the journal Medical Care 42(2), contains several papers from the conference, which was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS12058).

In a foreword to the supplement, Norma M. Lang, Ph.D., R.N., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and her colleagues note that nurse scientists have gained considerable experience in using large State and national datasets for quality research in acute care, home care, and long-term care settings; hospital safety outcomes; workforce issues; and the relationships between nurse staffing and quality outcomes. However, these datasets rarely include the data elements considered sensitive to nursing care and interventions.

Several speakers noted that categories of data elements such as organizational and practice structure, including staffing of health professionals, are absent from large datasets. They point out, however, that there is a growing body of research in key areas—including working conditions, staffing, and safety—and that findings from these studies are being disseminated to the field and to the public. The challenge remains to capitalize on the current momentum. For more details on the supplement, foreword, and papers, see:

  • Lang, N.M., Mitchell, P.H., Hinshaw, A.S., and others, "Measuring and improving healthcare quality," pp. II-1-II-3.
  • Mitchell, P.H., and Lang, N.M., "Framing the problem of measuring and improving healthcare quality: Has the quality health outcomes model been useful?" pp. II-4-II-11.
  • Swan, B.A., and Boruch, R.F., "Quality of evidence: Usefulness in measuring quality of health care," pp. II-12-II-20.
  • Mattke, S., Needleman, J., Buerhaus, P., and others, "Evaluating the role of patient sample definitions for quality indicators sensitive to nurse staffing patterns," pp. II-21-II-33.
  • Weiner, M.W., and Long, J., "Cross-sectional versus longitudinal performance assessments in the management of diabetes," pp. II-34-II-39.
  • Maas, M.L., and Delaney, C., "Nursing process outcome linkage research: Issues, current status, and health policy implications," pp. II-40-II-48.
  • Bakken, S., Cimino, J.J., and Hripcsak, G., "Promoting patient safety and enabling evidence-based practice through informatics," pp. II-49-II-56.
  • Vahey, D.C., Aiken, L.H., Sloane, D.M., and others, "Nurse burnout and patient satisfaction," pp. II-57-II-66.
  • Sochalski, J., "Is more better? The relationship between nurse staffing and the quality of nursing care in hospitals," pp. II-67-II-73.

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