“STANDARDS AND NURSING AUDIT: A TOOL FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT”
The discipline of Nursing is an art and science committed to professional excellence by providing highest quality care possible . Quality of care is determined by identifying the observable characteristics that depict desired and valued degree of excellence and the expected, observable variations.
The quality of nursing care can be managed both by evaluating the degree of excellence of results of delivered care and by taking action for the improvements that in future will result in high degree of care. The standards maintained and the nursing audit conducted hence, become the important tools for the quality management.
WHAT ARE STANDARDS? : WHAT ARE STANDARDS? Standard is a quantitative or qualitative measure against which someone or something is judged, compared or used to service as an example. Standards are professionally agreed levels of performance, which are achievable, and measurable.
The Oxford dictionary provides several key concepts for the definition of standards. First, it notes that standards represent a degree of excellence. Second, it suggests that standards serve as a basis of comparison. Third, it notes that standards are minimum with which a community may be reasonably content. Finally, a standard is recognized as a model for imitation.
IMPORTANCE OF STANDARD : IMPORTANCE OF STANDARD A standard is a practice that enjoys general recognition and conformity among professionals or an authoritative statement by which the quality of practice, service or education can be judged. One of the determinants of profession is that the members of the profession adopt standards of practice of their calling, establish criterion by which conformance to the standards will be measured and have the primary responsibility for seeing that the standards are enforced. A nursing care standard is a descriptive statement of desired quality against which is evaluate nursing care. It is a guideline, a path to safe conduct and an aid to professional performance.
PURPOSE OF STANDARDS To evaluate the quality of nursing practice in any setting. To compare and improve the existing nursing practice. To provide a common base for practitioners to coordinate and unify their efforts in the improvement or practice. To identify the element of independent function of nursing practices. To provide a basis for planning and evaluating educational program for practitioners. To inform society of our concern for the improvement of nursing practice. To assist the public in understanding what to expect of nursing practice. To assist employers to understand what to expect of Practitioners. To identify areas for developing core curriculum for practicing nurses. To provide legal protection for nurses.
CHARACTERISTICS OF STANDARDS Objective, acceptable, achievable and flexible. Must be framed by the members of the nursing profession. Should be phrased in positive terms like good, excellent, etc. Must be understandable and unambiguous. Must be based on current knowledge and scientific practice. Must be reviewed and revised periodically.
SOURCE OF NURSING CARE STANDARDS Standards can be developed, established, reviewed or enforced by: Professional organization like TNAI. Licensing body e.g. INC, statutory bodies. Institutions/Health care agencies. Department of institutions e.g. Nursing Department. Patient care unit e.g. Medical ICU. Government units at national, state and local government units. Individual e.g. personal standards.
LEVELS OF STANDARD: MINIMUM VS OPTIMUM Minimum standards are generally thought to represent a level of acceptability below which they eyes on those judging, lies the unacceptable. The desirable or optimal standards, represent a degree of excellence. For example, in a hospital the minimum standard for nosocomial infection may be 7-10 per cent. Anything above 10 per cent is unacceptable whereas the desired is 3 per cent.
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