Safe Staffing Ratios

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Reasons for safe staffing ratios From the early beginnings of nursing to present day, safe nurse staffing ratios have been a heated debate. High patient to nurse ratios have been the norm for over a century throughout the United States. As time went on nursing care, technology, cost containments and patient acuity changed drastically further fueling the need for safer staffing levels. Safety in numbers has been the battle cry of nurses across the United States since the 1990’s when cost containment strategies changed the way hospitals managed costs by regulating patient admissions, lengths of stays, patient acuity and training requirements for patient care. Through the 1990’s thousands of burnt out and frustrated RN’s, LPN/LVN’s, CNA’s and …show more content…

In order for hospital units to maintain somewhat safe ratios a sliding scale approach formula is used by a lot of units across America. An article from The Journal of Nursing Administration on Nurse Labor Data: The Collection and Interpretation of Nurse-To-Patient Ratios states that “almost all units used a sliding scale approach to account for census changes” (Minnick & Mion, 2009, para. 23). If the minimum ratio is four patients to one nurse for said unit the admission of more patients beyond the minimum ratio requires that an additional RN is needed in order to rebalance the ratios to meet 4:1 (Minnick & Mion, 2009). The example sliding scale formula mentioned above may not always work as favorably as nurse managers would like it to. The more patients with high acuities are admitted the more caseloads the nurses have to take on, more so if the unit is short staffed and there are no extra nurses that can be called in to lessen the workload. This in turn can cause fatigue and stress levels to rise amongst patient care workers and as a result may have adverse effects on their patients including increasing risk for errors, failure to rescue, and increased risk of mortality. To put this into reality a study was done regarding how much patients are at risk when a nurses’ patient workload exceeds what is considered safe based on the acuity of the patients the nurse is caring

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