“Nursing is an art, and if it is to be made an art, requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work...” (Nightingale, 1868)
In today’s health care system, “quality” and “safety” are one in the same when it comes to patient care. As Florence Nightingale described our profession long ago, it takes work and vigilance to ensure we are doing the best we can to care for our patients. (Mitchell, 2008)
The World Health Organization outlines 6 areas of quality that help shape our definition of what makes quality care. Those areas are; (1) Effective: using evidence bases practice to improve health outcomes based on needs of individuals and communities. (2) Efficient: healthcare that maximizes resources and minimizes waste. (3) Accessible: timely care that is provided in a setting where the skills and resources are appropriate for the medical need and is geographically reasonable. (4) Acceptable/Patient-Centered: healthcare that considers individual needs, preferences, and culture. (5) Equitable: healthcare quality that does not vary because of race, gender, ethnicity, geographical location, or socioeconomically status. (6) Safe: healthcare that minimizes harm and risks to patients. (Bengoa, 2006)
Another factor being looked at in quality of care is patient satisfaction. There has been some debate as to whether the patient’s perception of their care truly reflects the quality of care. I feel like this can be looked at from both angles. The nurse to patient ratio certainly factors into this as well as the acuity of the patients which can vary dramatically. Just stepping onto the floor we have a long list of “to do’s” for our patients; doctors to call, test results to look for, protocol’s to follow, and specific times medications are to be given . I believe this can lead to a perception from the patients that they are just a number or diagnosis and that nurses are incessantly too busy to focus on them as individuals. (Burhans & Alligood, 2010)
On a daily basis there is a lot of thought and focus directed at these patients to assure they are getting quality medical care; you may have caught a medication error, made multiple phone calls, waited on hold for what seems like forever, waited on doctors, ran to another floor all to get a patient something they needed or wanted, or may the nurse noticed an important change in the patients status that could dramatically affect their outcome. Most times the patient does not see or not even know about these behind the scenes battles to ensure quality care. Conversely, most often, especially when considering a patient in the hospital setting, our perception is our reality. Patients often do not know the ins and outs of procedure and protocol and rely solely on their perception of the care they are receiving. Studies have shown that patients desire to be perceived and cared for as individuals. Lying in that bed waiting on a nurse for 20 minutes for pain...