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How do you define a safe staffing level?

  • Comments (5)

How do you define a safe staffing level? What do you think?

Most nurses believe that staffing levels have regularly dipped below safe levels over the last year and want mandatory ratios for the number of staff per patient introduced, according to a Nursing Times survey.

Asked whether staffing had regularly fallen below safe levels on their ward over the past 12 months, 72% of respondents said that it had.

The issue is explored in: Nurses warn of dangerous dips in safe staffing levels. Nursing Times. 15 February 2012.


  • Comments (5)

Readers' comments (5)

  • My personal belief is 3-4 patients per nurse.

    I work in a busy ED and can be left looking after 5 patients with multiple admissions and critically ill patients. The level of care I can provide is directly influenced by the severity of my patients, if dealing with a sick DKA, I find it difficult to provide the elements of care required by my other patients.

    The level of staffing and severity of the patients is rarely taken into consideration when new initiatives are being introduced by government and management.

    I personally think Cameron missed an opportunity by not bringing in Patient/Nurse ratios when he brought in Intentional Rounding - such is life

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  • Anonymous

    depends on the level of dependency of the individual patient but at least as a minimum standard 3-4 patients per nurse per shift. It's only when this issue is addressed that we can provide 'quality' care and not some theory where the person centred so called approach is all but lip service.

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  • Anonymous

    this can be assessed by using an instrument to measure dependency scores such as the very expensive and questionable Canadian PRN system where you spend precious nursing time trying to remember every single minute you have spent with the patient and everything you have done for them and work out how many points for every single nursing procedure, which includes talking to the patient as well as any other non-nursing tasks social or, and adding up the scores for a 24 hour period. Add all these scores together and this will give you figures to present to the boss so that they can feed it into a computer which will calculate how many staff are needed for each shift the following day.

    The only slight problem with this is that the care and thus level of dependency changes from day to day and the following day might be totally different because the patients condition has changed or they might need a dressing on one day and not the next or preparation for an investigation, etc.. Also the number of staff required may not be available although they can sometimes be taken off other wards. Only this can cause a problem if there are unforeseen circumstances on the ward the nurses have been taken from!

    I am a great believer that if all hands were on deck in the first place including those of the boss instead of indulging in all these time consuming and costly exercises it would go a long way to solving some of the problem of shortages of pairs of hands!

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  • Anonymous

    I have 10 patients to care for on a medical ward, fifteen on n ight shift many high dependancy, never get to the end of your workload, leave shift usually aprox 1 hour late feeling like you have achieved nothing as being pulled in so many different directions. There must be a legal staff to patient ratio. What is it?

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  • Patient dependency was investigated extensively with 'Monitor' in the 80's (ish). We used to calculate patient dependecy daily to establish the number of staff required for the next shift. It was soon abandoned when it was realised how many staff were required to care for patients - too expensive. It was also open to abuse where some staff increased the dependency need of patients to ensure their ward was well staffed. There was only a certain number of staff within a directorate (can't recall the term we used then, at this moment) on duty, so some wards ended up working with fewer staff than ever.

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