total quality management
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total quality management (TQM)
an approach to the improvement of the provision of services based on the premise that the overwhelming majority of quality failures are the result of flaws in processes and that quality can be improved by controlling these processes. TQM replaces traditional methods of quality management based on the identification and correction of problems as they occur and requires the participation of all members of an organization in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work. TQM involves creation of an organizational structure for identifying and improving processes, the use of data-based statistical analysis to study processes, and the empowerment of employees to take responsibility for their own tasks in a way that encourages both continuous learning and personal responsibility. In a health care setting, this means a shift from an emphasis on tasks to an emphasis on outcomes of care, which provide the data. See also continuous quality improvement.