What is the best number of nurses to have in a hospital?
Every hospital needs doctors and nurses. These numbers vary on the size of the hospital, and its level of operation. The number of nurses also varies with the procedures taking place in the hospital. For example, if there was an emergency due to an accident you may need all nurses available on ‘deck’ to cater to the casualties. If it is a surgical procedure, then the operating room will need one nurse for every one patient.
If it is a psychiatric hospital, then the numbers there go up because these patients need more care due to their mental health. For each nurse, there could be the up to six patients. While attending to emergencies, a nurse may cater to up to four patients. Some states in America have implemented a nurse to patient ratio. These states are Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Montana, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
States that have passed legislation on the compulsory nurse to patient ratio are California and Massachusetts. While California has gone a step further to implement those ratios. A nurse to patient ratio refers to the nurses on a particular floor, ward or unit to the number of checked in patients. The greater the anticipated care for example in the intensive care unit or high dependency unit, the lower the ratio.
In a high-quality healthcare facility, a 1.6 ratio is the normal ratio at a medical-surgical unit, and 1.2 in the intensive care unit. Patients need more experienced nurses to tend to them. There is no certain ideal nurse to patient ratio as if depends on the circumstances and healthcare facility but it is debatable that there is a standard nurse to patient ratio expected for quality. Instead, nurses are working longer to support their patients due to understaffing. If the numbers were increased, the nurses would provide better care and also take better care of themselves.
Nurses have previously complained of working shifts in a rush exhaustively tending to even ten patients at a time. The would feel worn out trying to diagnose patients and treat each one at a time. This results in small mistakes and missing cues for an illness which became more common as this happened frequently. Nurses were too stressed receiving very little sleep. Another area worth mentioning is the inflow of patients to nurses available. Restricting these numbers in a reasonable manner makes for happier well-tended to patients, by more relaxed nurses.
Based on surveys made, the nurses could spend an hour more with them and even get time to take a break in between shifts. Notably, their shifts remained the same. As a result, procedural mistakes declined, patient outcomes improved and fewer patients returned to the hospital due to post-treatment complications. It was a win for both patients and nurses. This law that took effect in 2014, in California which restricts the number of patients being treated at any given time has been beneficial to all parties affected.
However, to implement this change, first more nurses have to be hired to balance out the new change and ensure quality service. As per business, one must spend to get the profit back, and the same applies here. The cost is effective when it is done right. To have more nurses there needs to be more educated nurses, which leads to higher salaries and benefits so as to attract and keep more nurses. The average salary has risen well in some states, particularly California after the move by their former governor, television veteran Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The overall cost of the health care system has gone up but for their overall benefit as the rest of America, works to catch up on the work of the Californian state. This move will make both the nurses happier with an improved quality of life and well-treated patients.