Correctional Nursing Peer Review: Determining Discipline-Specific and Community Standards

Peer review whiteboardAlthough the concept of nursing peer review is over two decades old, it is just coming of age in the correctional nursing specialty as the newest version of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care Accreditation Standards has expanded the Clinical Performance Enhancement Program (Standard C-02) to include RNs and LPNs. This is the second in a 4-part series of posts on correctional nursing peer review. Find other posts on this topic here.

There are four key components to the ANA definition of nursing peer review according to their published  Guidelines.

  • Practicing Registered Nurses
  • Assess, monitor, and make judgments about
  • Nursing care provided
  • Measured against professional standards of practice

Accepted professional standards of practice for correctional nurses, then, provide the basis for a nursing peer review program. The NCCHC standard C-02 focuses attention on the competence of the individual under review. The ANA places peer review centers on the complementary goals of quality and safety. Thus, a peer review process for correctional nurses that encompasses competent, quality, and safe care provision is recommended.  Three primary sources of community and discipline-specific standards for nursing peer review programs are outlined below.

ANA Correctional Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice

The American Nurses Association Correctional Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice (affiliate link) provide key professional nursing standards focused on the unique nature of the correctional nursing specialty. Therefore, they provide an excellent foundation for a nursing peer review program. The six Standards of Practice, in particular, provide competency statements appropriate for use in peer review. These standards follow the nursing process and include:

  • Assessment
  • Diagnosis
  • Outcomes Identification
  • Planning
  • Implementation: Coordination of care, health teaching and health promotion, consultation, prescriptive authority and treatment (Advanced Practice Nurses)
  • Evaluation

State Boards of Nursing – Nurse Practice Acts

Nursing practice is governed by state legislation. State boards of nursing then provide the guidance for the nursing profession through interpretation of the nurse practice act and by developing administrative rules or regulations that clarify practice act components. Although they vary among the states, nurse practice acts all contain the standards and scope of nursing practice under their jurisdiction. Here are some examples of practice standards common to most Nurse Practice Acts and follow the key elements of the nursing process

  • Nursing Assessment
  • Patient-centered Health Care Plans
  • Independent Nursing Judgments
  • Provision of Care (as ordered or prescribed by authorized health care providers)
  • Evaluation of Interventions
  • Patient Teaching
  • Delegation of Nursing Interventions
  • Patient Advocacy

Links to state nurse practice acts can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website along with a helpful article describing the standard factors of nurse practice acts.

Accreditation Standards that Address Nursing Clinical Practice

Many NCCHC accreditation standards address organizational structure and process but some address individual professional practice. Most come from Section E: Patient Care and Treatment. Those standards can be incorporated into a nursing peer review program. Here are a few examples of appropriate accreditation standards to consider:

  • Receiving Screening
  • Transfer Screening
  • Initial Health Assessment
  • Mental Health Screening and Evaluation
  • Nonemergency Health Care Requests and Services
  • Nursing Assessment Protocols
  • Discharge Planning
  • Infirmary Care
  • Intoxication and Withdrawal

Are you developing a Nursing Peer Review program in your setting? Share your experiences in the comments section of this post.

To read more about professional practice issues see Chapter 19 in the Essentials of Correctional Nursing. The text can be ordered directly from the publisher and if you use Promo Code AF1402 the price is discounted by $15 off and shipping is free.

Photo Credit: © lculig –

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