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  1. Diers, Donna MSN, RN
  2. Potter, Joyce MS, RN


The unmanageable nursing unit is one that has the reputation of being wastefully over budget, not using nursing resources well, not cost effective, and certainly not well managed. Serendipity led us to discover ways to understand the unmanageable unit in one institution. The nurse manager knew the unit was not working well, but had no way to describe this in clinical management terms that would be understood by others. When data from before and after major structural and system redesign initiatives became available, they showed a situation in which decisions were made without data that worked. How much better might it have been had the data that was now accessible been used? We suggest a design for using standard hospital data to define alleged problems of inefficient nursing units; the design is also the structure for monitoring the effects of management changes.