Patient Care And Patient Safety

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Surviving the Shift
The topic of nurse to patient ratios has remained a consistent focus of controversy in the medical community. Nurses, physicians, patients, CEO’s and countless other individuals, have questioned the growing concern with patient safety and patient outcomes. Laying at the root of this concern, is the ever growing unease for patient safety based on the number of patients a nurse cares for during one shift. Hinno (2011) states “Knowledge of the relationship between nurse staffing and adverse patient outcomes is crucial to optimize the management of professional nursing resources and patient care.” (p. 1584) What are the outcomes for patients who are being cared for by an over loaded nurse? There appears to be a plethora of
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Nurse to Patient Ratios Each nurse is expected to care for a certain amount of patients during their shift. During this time, the nurse is expected to care for these patients in a prompt and able manner. Passing medications, completing assessments, assisting in and out of bed, providing wound care and offering education to each patient, no matter the amount of patients, the nurse is obligated to provide care.
The amount of patients that each nurse cares for differs from state to state and facility to facility. Presently there are few set standards for choosing how many patients each nurse is assigned. The most common way of deciding patient load depends upon patient acuity. This golden standard does not include patient needs, the patient’s family’s needs, necessary education or procedures required. This can cause a nurse to become overwhelmed. Perhaps not because her patient is of high acuity, but because the patient is in high need of her services and takes up a large portion of her time. This can lead to a great number of problems for the nurse as well as the support staff which must be utilized momentously. High demanding patients increase a nurse’s workload prominently.
In certain situations nurse to patient ratios can be as low as 1:1, if the patient is in the critical care unit this often occurs. This category of patient ordinarily includes multiple medications being delivered via pump, intubation or respiratory support and complex procedures.
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