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Patient Safety / Quality

Nursing quality: Strength in numbers

All of us want to be the best of the best. But how do we know if we’re providing the best-quality care? By measuring our baseline performance and arming ourselves with information about other similar organizations, we can compare our performance with that of other organizations at the local, state, regional, and national levels. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has the most complete database of nursing measures, providing comparative data in the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®), part of ANA’s National Center for Nursing Quality.

Since 2004, when the National Quality Forum endorsed the first set of nurse-sensitive quality measures as voluntary consensus standards, nurse researchers have been building evidence to expand quality measures to help us understand how the quantity and quality of nursing care affects patient outcomes and efficiency. More than 1,900 hospitals across the country report data to NDNQI on measures that assess the impact of nursing care on such patient outcomes as falls, central line infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pressure ulcers, and nurse staffing hours and skill mix.

The articles in this special section describe the power of using data and benchmarks to understand and improve the quality of care at the unit level. For more than a decade, the ability to link data on patient care with staffing levels and skill mix has been used to support the business case for nurse staffing in acute-care settings.

As the saying goes, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” Participating in NDNQI builds powerful information to influence decision-making and catalyze improvement efforts in care provision.


Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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