Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios Essay

2222 Words Mar 15th, 2013 9 Pages
Finding Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios
Augsburg College

Abstract
Determining nurse-to-patient ratios in nursing facilities remains a challenge for the nursing profession. Two main staffing methods that are currently used in most nursing facilities are staffing by patient acuity using patient classification systems and staffing by mandated nurse-to-patient rations. Each method has an impact on patient outcomes, safety and overall satisfaction determined from different articles and studies done on each staffing method. There are pros and cons to each staffing methods. Nursing facilities look at many of these pros and cons when determining staffing methods that are used, cost, patient outcomes, nursing satisfaction and
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Coffman, Seago, and Spetz (2002) stated, “The wage differential between LVNs and RNs may lead some hospitals to hire additional LVNs to comply with mandates: Where this occurs, the impact of minimum ratios on patient outcomes may be negligible” (p.56). According Coffman et al., places with mandated nurse-to-patient ratios may offer incentives to hospitals to lower their staffing ratios to comply with the minimum mandated, which could actually lower their patient outcomes. Complying to the mandates without using the proper staff or lowering nurse-to-patient ratios to comply with mandates does not improve the quality of care that the mandates are supposed to encourage. Patient acuity is another way in which nursing staff numbers are measured. Determining the nurse-to-patient ratios by patient acuity is another staffing method used in healthcare facilities. Patient classification systems are used to determine the patient care needs or acuity. Nurses or a charge nurse are usually in charge of classifying each patient to determine the acuity needed to staff each patient/unit. After each patient is classified, the charge nurse can use the acuity to determine how many nurses are needed based on the patient acuity on the unit. These patient classification systems allow for changing

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