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The Importance of Nurse Staffing Ratios and How They Impact Patient Care - PNG Solutions

The Importance of Nurse Staffing Ratios and How They Impact Patient Care

Nurse staffing ratio is the number of patients in the care of one nurse. Generally, the recommendation for a nurse-to-patient ratio is 1:4. However, this isn’t always the case as there are no federal mandates that regulate the number of patients registered nurses can care for. The result of this is nurses caring for more patients than they are, which isn’t safe as patient care is compromised.

Factors such as the type of facility and level of care required may influence the number of patients assigned to each nurse. 

Nurse managers should be able to determine appropriate staffing for their facilities. That’s why continuing education is recommended. With an online Master of Science in Nursing Administration, nurses learn how to optimize nurse-patient ratios taking into consideration staffing budgets.

Why are Nurse Staffing Ratios Important in Healthcare?

Safe nurse staffing means giving the correct number of patients to one nurse who can offer their time to them. This nurse has the right education, skills, and a good number of experiences to meet the patient’s needs. Nurses also need the right conditions and environment to provide their patients with premium care. Thus, safe staffing ratios play a key role in reducing patient mortality rates.

Unsafe staffing is a threat to the health and safety of patients. When a unit is understaffed, it’s easy for accidents to occur, and for nurses to administer the wrong drugs due to exhaustion. It also adds more stress to nurses as they have a high number of patients to attend to and a lack of critical medical supplies is bound to impede patient care.

There are, however, ways in which you can achieve safe nurse staffing in your facility. The most important step to take is to hire more permanent staff than temporary staff who will be available for you to have a recommended nurse-to-patient ratio taking into consideration sick leave and vacation. 

Other factors to consider include:

Adequate resources: It’s easier to create safe nurse staffing in a facility where the medication and equipment are available to respond to patients’ needs.

Teamwork: The role of teamwork in any institution is indisputable as it allows you to learn and reduces the possibility of mistakes. In healthcare, teamwork helps you prevent errors and increase patient satisfaction.

The Impact of Nurse Staffing Ratios on Patient Care

Nurse staffing will always be a call for concern in health facilities. This issue is a bigger concern for administrators. 

According to a 2019 membership survey by the American Nurses Association (ANA), 93% of respondents identified staffing as an “important” issue while 72% considered it “extremely important.” This is a clear indication that nurse staffing ratios play a vital role in patient care.

Sadly enough, though, administrators have few to no guidelines for establishing optimal staffing. However, administrators are encouraged to hire adequate licensed registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and other experienced healthcare personnel to provide nursing care to all patients as needed. 

If a nurse is given too many patients to take care of, it might lead to burnout and fatigue which can then hurt the lives of the patients they care for. Too many patients to handle would mean poor quality of patient care due to limited time and focus. The more the nurse is stressed and overloaded, the more the decrease in job satisfaction which will in turn affect the facility.

It’s, therefore, important to have safe staffing ratios as it doesn’t only help to reduce morbidity and adequate staffing but also lowers nurse turnover rates, and nurse burnout and saves the facility from excess spending. It’s recommended to have a nurse staffing ratio of 1:3 in teaching hospitals and 1:5 in general hospitals with a senior nurse.

By encouraging a safe nurse staffing ratio, you reduce costs, take care of your nurses’ health, and most importantly, provide your patients with the optimal care they need. To achieve this, nurse administrators must understand how staffing ratios affect the quality of patient care, nursing satisfaction, and an organization’s financial stability. They must also understand that there are units that need intensive care.

Featured Image Credits: Trusted Nurse Staffing

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