How to Develop Nursing Standards of Care

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As America's elderly population grows, the demand for healthcare rises. However, doctors today have less and less time to spend with each individual patient, making the nurse's role of utmost importance. Because of this, developing stringent standards of care for nursing ensures that the nurses in your institution treat each patient with respect and deliver the level of service your patients expect and need.

  • Establish your institution's goals for patient care. From this list, which should include at least ten points and can go into the hundreds, come up with action-oriented steps to help nurses provide the highest standards of care. For example, if one of your priorities is patient comfort, hourly nurse check-ins and daily sheet changes might reinforce these goals well.

  • Separate each department. While certain standards of care will be the same throughout your institution, many departments will have special requirements. A pediatrics intensive care unit, for example, may need nurses to check in with patients more often than patients recovering from general surgery in the outpatient wing. Within each department, pinpoint the top priorities for the populations served and create a list that gives your nurses steps to uphold these standards.

  • Create a standardized vocabulary. Between the general list for the entire institution and the specific list for each department, the kinds of vocabulary that you use should be standardized so as to avoid confusion among your staff. For example, if "maintaining patient comfort" is specified for the entire hospital, "keeping patients happy" would be a vaguer way to describe a similar goal, and so should be eliminated from other lists.

  • Set boundaries. The final important standard to set is the limits of the nurse's role in your hospital. By setting these limits, you can come up with procedures addressing a variety of other issues, from prescription medications to general maintenance of each wing.

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