Traditionally, standards are used to define the level of care that a patient can expect to receive in a given institution or on a given nursing unit. These standards are the foundation of quality assurance programs. Unfortunately, with the increased emphasis on monitoring care, many standards are being written after the quality assurance activities have been developed and are in place. Often, standards are placed neatly in a book that is dusted off and brought out when the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations representative (JCAHO) visits. The nursing staff at the unit level has no real knowledge or understanding of the standards. This may result in a nonfunctioning quality assurance program

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