Nurses on the front line of quality improvement

12 May 2015

The Health Quality & Safety Commission says nurses are well placed to serve on the front line of quality improvement, following in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale, who was born 195 years ago today.

Nurses play a vital role in improving quality and safety not only in hospitals but also in primary and community-based care.

One hospital chief nursing officer noted, ‘Nurses are the safety net. They are the folks that are right there, real time, catching medication errors, catching patient falls, recognising when a patient needs something, alert to patient deterioration.’

Others have described nurses as the ‘eyes and ears’ of a hospital and in a particularly good position to positively influence a patient’s experience and outcomes.

As hospitals face increasing demands to participate in a wide range of quality improvement activities, they are reliant on their ability to engage and use nursing resources effectively.

Gaining a more in-depth understanding of the role nurses play in improvement and the challenges they face can provide hospitals with important insights into how they can optimise resources to improve patient care.

Quality and safety skills nurses need include knowing:

  • the core values associated with patient-centred care
  • how to engage patients
  • the principles of health literacy and cultural competency
  • how to use data to monitor the outcomes of care
  • the value of openness and transparency
  • strategies to minimise risk of harm to patients and providers
  • the key drivers of poor quality care: harm, waste and variation
  • the principles of improvement
  • how to apply simple quality improvement tools
  • measurement strategies for improvement
  • how to implement and sustain improvements.

Download the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s e-book: Quality in the workplace.

Last updated 12/05/2015