The forces influencing the development of outcome standards are gaining momentum. These forces are professional nursing issues, accreditation standards, and reimbursement issues. Traditionally, structure and process measures provided the means for evaluating the quality of nursing care. But nurses also play an important role in achieving positive patient outcomes. Outcome standards provide a mechanism for measuring patient outcomes. In 1990, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) published Outcome Standards for Nursing Care of the Critically Ill. The book serves as a model for developing and using outcome standards in critical care units. This chapter describes these outcome standards and recommends ways to use them. The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations’ (JCAHO) ten-step model outlines development of unit-specific outcome standards. Methods focus throughout on a quality assurance framework

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