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Keywords:

  • surveillance;
  • nurse organization;
  • administration;
  • quality of care

Abstract

Better patient outcomes are often achieved through effective surveillance, a primary function of nurses. The purpose of this article is to define, operationalize, measure, and evaluate the nurse surveillance capacity of hospitals. Nurse surveillance capacity is defined as the organizational features that enhance or weaken nurse surveillance. It includes a set of registered nurse (staffing, education, expertise, experience) and nurse practice environment characteristics. Empirical referents were extracted from existing survey data from 9,232 nurses in 174 hospitals. Using a ranking methodology, a Hospital Nurse Surveillance Capacity Profile was created for each hospital. Greater nurse surveillance capacity was significantly associated with better quality of care and fewer adverse events. The profile may assist administrators to improve nurse surveillance and patient outcomes. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 32:217–228, 2009