Practice standards are the criteria against which professional practice is measured. In 1990, the Institute of Medicine noted wide variation in usage of the term "standard," as it applies to professional practice. In some contexts standards may be minimum levels of performance or results, whereas elsewhere they represent excellence. Minimum standards are commonly associated with performance assessment of individual cases, resulting in identification and correction of aberrant practices. Standards of excellence may be used as targets or goals in continuous quality improvement, where the desired result is improved average performance demonstrated through reduced variation in quality measures.
CHARLES P. SCHADE