Measuring How Nurses Contribute to Patient Safety and Health Care Quality

In 2007 and 2008, the Joint Commission tested specifications for 15 "nursing sensitive" performance measures in 49 acute-care hospitals across the United States. The goal was to determine the reliability and feasibility of these measures for assessing and improving the ways nurses contribute to patient safety and health care quality.

Key Findings

  • All 15 performance measures, individually and as a set, were effective in improving patient care, and hospitals could feasibly collect data on them all.
  • Specifications for some of the measures needed further refinement and clarification. For example, hospitals are not consistent in the way they classify injuries from falls or how they measure the onset of infection.

Key Recommendations

Performance measures can be strengthened and greater uniformity achieved across hospitals by clarifying the definitions of what is being assessed, refining data-collection approaches and collaborating with others to align terminology.