Lessons Learned from State Roll-Out of the NQF Nursing Sensitive Measures

In 2004, the National Quality Forum (NQF) endorsed a set of nursing sensitive measures, with the goal to provide hospitals, the public and purchasers with comparative measures that accurately reflect nursing performance. Massachusetts and Maine were among the first states to adopt statewide initiatives for the public reporting of nursing performance through the use of nurse sensitive measures. An INQRI team, led by Pat Noga and Barry Kitch, conducted a hospital leadership survey, including interviews with key stakeholders and hospital case studies to analyze these states' experiences implementing the initiatives. The team found that reaching agreement on the measures was a substantial and lengthy undertaking, and that while hospital leaders believed that public reporting of nurse sensitive measures was likely to have a positive impact both on the quality of nursing care and patient outcomes, they also found the initiatives to be burdensome. However, in both states, most believed that a public mandatory program would work best to improve quality of nursing care. Respondents were concerned about the accuracy and consistency of data collection and reporting across hospitals and wondered if the reports would be useful to the general public. Based on the experiences in Maine and Massachusetts, the researchers believe that it is possible to publicly report measures of nursing quality and that doing so can have a positive impact on the quality of care. The team theorizes that these initiatives are likely generalizable to other quality measurement initiatives not focused on nurse sensitive measures. The work of Noga and Kitch suggests that despite the perceived burden of implementing hospital reporting programs, public mandatory reporting may be viewed as a substantial impetus for improving the quality of nursing care.

This research lives on in Massachusetts through the ongoing public reporting of various nurse sensitive measures that posted on the quality and safety website PatientCareLink.  This site is a joint initiative of the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executives (MONE).

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Dr. Pat Noga
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Dr. Barry Kitch