is a system for the distribution of nursing care in which care of one patient is managed for the entire 24-hour day by one nurse who directs and coordinates nurses and other personnel; schedules all tests, procedures, and daily activities for that patient; and cares for that patient personally when on duty. In acute care the primary care nurse may be responsible for only one patient; in intermediate care the primary care nurse may be responsible for three or more patients. Nurse midwives and other nurse practitioners practice primary nursing. Some advantages are continuity of care for the patient; accountability of the nurse for that care; patient-centered care that is comprehensive, individualized, and coordinated; and the professional satisfaction of the nurse.

From Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition.