1. Section Editor(s): Vacca, Vincent M. Jr. MSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN

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The response to that question depends on who you ask, doesn't it? A pilot may review a quality and safety checklist of air transportation standards prior to takeoff. The manager of a fast-food restaurant has a set of specific conditions that represent quality and safety, which differ from those of a high-school principal or a director of shopping-mall security. However, across all enterprises, quality and safety policies and practices share a common fundamental principle: education. Investing in each employee ensures that quality and safety are always a priority and consistently practiced.

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In healthcare, quality and safety are defined, implemented, and practiced differently from any other industry. Many diverse roles collaborate to deliver the highest quality and safest care-and nurses have a special place in this effort. Nurses practice and provide quality and safety in a variety of settings: hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, military, correctional facilities, clinics, schools, and in patients' homes. Nurses also teach the principles of quality and safety to the next generation of nurses throughout academia. They influence and direct quality and safety by creating and supporting local, state, and national legislative initiatives.


Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern evidence-based nursing, developed healthcare process reforms and demonstrated that they lead to improved outcomes by focusing on quality and safety. Many of her lessons focused on patient-centered care: hand washing, cleanliness, nutrition, rest, sanitizing surgical instruments, ventilation, and drainage. These are standards of care that nurses use to promote quality and safety in healthcare to this day.


With over 3 million nurses practicing in the United States, we make up the largest segment of the multidisciplinary healthcare system. Our contributions are essential to the growth, improvement, and strengthening of our healthcare system. The nursing profession has and will continue to have significant impact on healthcare by developing, providing, and delivering evidence-based, patient-centered, accessible, high-quality, safe, and affordable care.


What does quality and safety look like in your facility and in your practice?


Vincent M. Vacca, Jr., MSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN

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Human Resources and Services Administration. The registered nurse population: initial findings from the 2008 national sample survey of registered nurses. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.