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For a Quality Metrics Reality Check, Just Ask a Nurse

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, October 9, 2012

For every additional 10% in the proportion of nurses reporting that the quality of care on their unit was excellent, there was a 3.7 point increase in the percentage of patients who would recommend the hospital. There was also a 5% decrease in the odds of mortality and failure-to-rescue for surgical patients.

Reports of excellent quality were also linked with good work environments that support professional nursing practices. It's a finding that echoes another recent study which showed that "when supported by their practice environments, nurses employ practices that can assist in interrupting medication errors before they reach the patients."

The opposite is also true: This summer, I wrote about a study that linked nurse burnout to higher healthcare-associated infection rates.

The idea that nurses would be able to deliver an accurate assessment of hospital quality isn't surprising if you stop to consider how deeply embedded nurses are in the trenches of day-to-day patient care.

Of course, they're at the patients' bedsides. But for all practical purposes, nurses really are the most crucial part of the machinery that keeps a hospital running 24-7. They're also the "face" of the hospital, and interact with so many different people throughout the day, from families, to patients, to physicians.

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