Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Nursing (M.S.N.)

Degree Program

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Emily Droste-Bielak

Second Advisor

Dewey Hoitenga

Third Advisor

Cynthia Coviak


A descriptive study was conducted to determine how well medical-surgical and critical care staff nurses identified the same nursing diagnoses and defining characteristics from a written case study. A convenience sample of 83 staff nurses from four acute care institutions participated in the study.; Of the total diagnostic statements made, 42.9% were the same as those identified by experts in the case study. Three nurses (3.6%) correctly identified all five nursing diagnoses in the written case study. An additional seven (8.4%) nurses correctly identified four of the nursing diagnoses. The demographic characteristics of these nurses were varied. No statistical relationship between any of the demographic variables and the ability to correctly identify the nursing diagnoses was identified. Minimal use of written cues was also evident in this study.; These findings have implications for both nursing education and service. Diagnostic reasoning is necessary in order to provide safe and consistent patient care.


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