There are many dimensions to outcome measurement for patient care and this study focuses on one aspect of outcome, namely that which is most concerned with the immediate effects of nursing care. Traditionally, outcome studies have been almost exclusively concerned with measuring the clinical outcomes of care with very little attempt being made to assess the effect of the nurses' contributions to that care. One of this study's purposes has been to redress this imbalance. As part of a research project on skill mix and the effectiveness of nursing care, a number of patient-focused standards related to the outcome of nursing care were designed. These were tested, in a case study situation, on 15 wards at seven acute hospitals. Initial testing indicates that these outcome measures show promise as a valid and reliable evaluation instrument with the utility for easy application in the clinical setting. They are being presented as a possible way forward to assessing the outcomes of nursing care.