A plethora of research links professional nurses' qualifications to patient outcomes. Also, research has shown that reports by nurses on the quality of care correspond with process or outcome measures of quality in a hospital. New to the debate is whether professional nurses' qualifications impact on their perceptions of patient safety and quality of care. This research aims to investigate professional nurses' perceptions of patient safety and quality of care in South Africa, and the relationship between these perceptions and professional nurses' qualifications. A cross-sectional survey of 1117 professional nurses from medical and surgical units of 55 private and 7 public hospitals was conducted. Significant problems with regard to nurse-perceived patient safety and quality of care were identified, while adverse incidents in patients and professional nurses were underreported. Qualifications had no correlation with perceptions of patient safety and quality of care, although perceptions may serve as a valid indicator of patient outcomes. Creating an organizational culture that is committed to patient safety and encourages the sharing of adverse incidents will contribute to patient safety and quality of care in hospitals.
Keywords: education; patient safety; perceptions; qualifications; quality of care.
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