Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Outcome Measures in Your EO Documents

Determining the difference between an outcome measure and a process measure can be a little bit tricky, but clear and concise outcome measures are the key to having your EO document score well. Here are some tips to help you determine the difference in your data measures for a successful EO document.

You can use three different types of measures to report data: structure, process and outcome.

  • Structure measures involve availability related to staff, physical equipment or facilities.
  • Process measures evaluate how the system works.
  • Outcome measures are focused on the result—did the nursing care provided make a difference?

For Magnet success, it is the Outcome Measures that matter the most. In writing an empirical outcomes (EO) document, it’s important to plan ahead so that you are measuring a clinical or patient outcome and not the process. So what’s the difference? Process measures are, of course, very important. They enable us to evaluate how reliably each step is being executed, which steps within the process need to be worked on, or if the whole process needs to be scrapped and started over. But at the end of the day, it’s really results—the outcomes—that count!

Hospitals are evaluated on their performance with outcome measures and not process measures. An outcome measure measures how well the entire process is working to achieve the desired result. It is essentially the result or the “so what?” of your process. Structure and process measures are easier to measure but outcome measures are really what matter for your EO to score well.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for outcome measures:

Subject Don’t Report: Do Report:
Medication errors # of times two identifiers were used to check a patient identification

Medication error rate

(# medication errors ÷ total # medications administered)

CAUTI # of urinary catheters inserted with aseptic technique CAUTI rate (per 1,000 device days)
CLABSI Compliance with central line bundle CLABSI rate (per 1,000 central line days)
Patient falls

% of patients who had a daily pressure ulcer risk assessment completed

% of patients receiving pressure ulcer risk assessment upon admission

HAPU rate ≥ stage 2 (per 1,000 patient days)

HAPU rate (per 100 admissions)


Need help determining whether your measure is a process measure or outcome measure? We’re here for you! Write to us at