is an example of a very basic Patient Classification System (PCS). It is a system that measures patient needs and nursing care required to meet those needs. It includes the severity of the patient's illness and complexity of clinical judgement needed by the RN to take care of the patient.
This measurement is also known as patient "acuity" and filling in the blanks with information about the patient results in a "score" which determines the number of staff required by skill level and patient need based on the resulting patient classifications.
PCS's are required by law in CA. I don't know about other states?
Our system is a bit more intense and includes specific interventions and places a time allotment for the interventions than the PCS in the link I provided above. The more time intensive a patient is, the higher that patient's score. So for example, if a patient is trached and requires frequent suctioning, the charge RN will look at the charting (thank goodness for computerized charting!) and will check a box that will give a higher acuity score to this patient than he/she would to a person on 2L nasal cannula who's talking, eating, and able to expel their respiratory secretions into a tissue!
The trached patient is much more time consuming and a higher score will reflect that. So when the charge nurse makes assignments, this higher score will be taken into account and the RN will be assigned a relatively less time-consuming patient in addition to the trach. This is a VERY basic example. It's MUCH more complicated than this in the ICU (our max ratio 1:2).
Scores are documented every 24 hours by the charge nurse. Of course things can change throughout the course of 24 hours so it can be updated sooner as well.
I hope this is what you were looking for?