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Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses
reported directly by the hospital. In general, the hospital-reported ratios were leaner (fewer nurses for the patients) than those computed. These two methods yielded the average nurse-to-patient ratios and ranges of staffing levels by shift and rural/urban hospital status shown in Tables 5-4 and 5-5, respectively. The range of nurse staffing levels is shown by the reported number of patients per RN displayed in quartiles in Table 5-5.
A survey of Pennsylvania RNs working in hospitals in 1999 identified medical–surgical nurses and asked them to provide (for the most recent shift they had worked) information on the type of shift they had worked (i.e., day, evening, or night), the number of patients in their unit during that shift, the number of patients assigned to them, and the number of RNs who had worked in their unit during that shift. The average number of patients assigned to these medical–surgical nurses ranged from six to eight, with
TABLE 5-4 Average Number of Patients per RN, by Shift and Rural/ Nonrural Location, in California
Rural with 12-Hour Shifts
Nonrural with 12-Hour Shifts
Rural with 8-Hour Shifts
Nonrural with 8-Hour Shifts
Computed number of patients per RN
Reported number of patients per RN
NOTE: NA = not applicable.
SOURCE: Spetz et al. (2000).
TABLE 5-5 Quartiles of Staffing Data in Medical–Surgical Units, in California