TABLE 5-1 Variations in Nurse-to-Patient Ratios in Pennsylvania Hospitals, 1999

Patients per Nurse

Percent of Respondents Reporting

≤ 4

7.1

5

47.3

6

20.8

7

10.9

≥ 8

4.0

 

SOURCE: Aiken et al. (2002).

and Gergen, 1998; Kovner et al., 2002; Lichtig et al., 1999; Needleman et al., 2002; Sochalski, 2001). Some studies specific to ICU staffing have been conducted; information on staffing levels in other hospital units, including medical–surgical units, is sparse.

Overall hospital staffing As stated above, a problem with hospital-level aggregation is that when heterogeneous nursing units, such as pediatric units, labor and delivery units, adult medical–surgical units, and ICUs, are combined, hospital-wide staffing levels may not well represent the levels experienced by patients in a given nursing unit, and the findings of research can be clouded. Table 3-3 in Chapter 3 (replicated here as Table 5-2) indi-

TABLE 5-2 Types of Work Units in Which Hospital-Employed RNs Spend More Than Half of Their Direct Patient Care Time

Type of Work Unit

Percent of RNs Employed

General/specialty bed unit

30.9

Intensive care unit

16.9

Operating room

9.0

Labor/delivery

8.2

Emergency department

7.9

Step-down/transition from ICU

5.9

Outpatient department

5.8

Postanesthesia recovery room

3.1

Other area

2.5

No specific area

1.8

Not known

8.0

TOTAL

100

 

SOURCE: Spratley et al. (2000).



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