To what extent is the observed technical skill of a nurse during a procedure a factor that patients use to assess the nurse’s skill?

Satisfaction with hospital care is a topic of much interest, and many hospitals use some instrument to measure patients’ satisfaction. Public reporting of measures of patients’ perspectives of care are now available on the Internet.11 Press Ganey Associates, Inc,22 a leading vendor of tools to measure patients’ satisfaction, includes the item “skill of the nurses” on a questionnaire mailed to patients after discharge from the hospital. Although much information is available on patients’ satisfaction and perceptions of quality of care, and some information is available on patients’ perceptions of physicians’ skills, little information is available on patients’ perceptions of nurses’ skills.

Skill is defined as “the ability to use one’s knowledge . . . in...

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