If you want to know about hospital quality, just ask a nurse. According to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, nurses’ perceptions of quality care seem to accurately reflect hospital outcome data.
This shouldn't be surprising. Nurses are our biggest providers of direct patient care, managing patients from not only a physical standpoint, but from a psychosocial aspect as well. Because of this, they may have a better understanding of the patient's needs on a continuing basis, and are better suited to offer patient-specific care.
Public health policy expert Dr. Matthew D. McHugh at Penn Nursing says that “[nurses'] assessments of quality are built on more than an isolated encounter or single process -- they are developed over time through a series of interactions and direct observations of care.”
Dr. McHugh claims that nurse-reported quality accurately correlated with hospital outcome data, including the areas of death, and life-threatening, post-surgical complications.
The study included more than 16,000 nurses from approximately 400 hospitals in California, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Researchers examined quality data between nurses and their respective hospitals -- institutions recognized for outstanding nursing care or Magnet status.
“Obtaining information from nurses takes advantages of their unique perspective within the caregiving context,” says McHugh. He goes to say, “Nurses have insights -- patient-provider interactions, integration of technology, patient and family education -- that are not always documented in the medical record but often make the difference between good and bad outcomes.”
As important as it is to obtain a patient’s perspective on quality care, nursing professionals hold valuable opinions gathered from witnessing all aspects of care, from bedside care to the importance of electronic medical records. Nurses are a true indicator of hospital quality.
Does the quality of your cancer program reflect the rest of the institution? Do you feel your perception of quality is valued and measured within your own institution?