Staff/Patient Ratio - 30 Patients per Nurse

  1. 29
    In my last job (which I quit due to inadequate staffing), I had 30 patients to take care of, 60 while the other nurse was at lunch. Our CNAs had 10 residents each, sometimes up to 20. The facility was a combination rehab/long-term-care facility. Approximately 1/3 of my residents were also Alzheimers and/or psychiatric residents. These residents required almost continual supervision. Even if I wanted to, there was no way I could do bedmaking, bedpans, etc. :uhoh21: Still, I did do these things when I had to - but that time cut into my required tasks as a nurse.

    The third floor of this facility has 60 beds, usually full. Evening shift (3-11) has only TWO nurses - that means each nurse must care for THIRTY residents all by herself. At night there is only ONE nurse caring for all SIXTY residents.

    The facility meets the hour/ratio requirements by hiring nurses in administrative positions - and counting any moving body with any type of direct care license (even if they aren't taking care of patients), making it seem like there are more nurses than there actually are. They count anyone licensed to do any type of direct care and who is in the building - regardless of the fact that some of those people are administrators, OT/PT/RT, or other staff that are not providing daily direct patient care.

    It is logistically IMPOSSIBLE for one nurse to provide competent, adequate, thorough, and truly compassionate nursing care to 30 residents. You can come in early, leave late, skip all meals and breaks, and still not do the things you should be doing, still not give the care the residents deserve.

    The formula used for nurse/patient ratios presents skewed results. Regulatory agencies should look directly at how many nurses are taking care of how many patients at any one time, not including staff that are not providing direct care at that time. I think New Hampshire's ratio is 3.7 hours, and HCFA says that a number below 3.5 hours is insufficient to provide adequate care. Cutting it close, aren't we? Recent recommondations are 4.1-4.6, I believe.

    Nurses on that floor, with 30 residents each: pass medications, do wound assessment and care, do treatments, catheters, resident assessments, incoming lab/radiology/consult results, call physicians to relay information and request orders, take new orders, enact those orders, stock, receive pharmacy deliveries, assist residents with ADLs, pass meal trays, feed residents, deal with resident family needs, requests for various assistance by residents and/or other staff, and deal with physicians. They answer the phones, monitor, assist, and supervise CNAs, and do a myriad of other tasks and miscellaneous resident care including but not limited to assessment, monitoring meeting social needs, performing treatments, and providing emergency care.

    There is no secretary, unit clerk, charge nurse, or other person to take care of phone calls/faxes/family/orders or the multitude of other tasks necessary behind the scenes (at the nurse's station). A nurse cannot be in the nurse's station, on the telephone, at a med cart, and in a resident room all at the same time!

    And of course this doesn't include all of the paperwork and documentation due at the end of the shift. No wonder staff turn over is high and residents receive inadequate care (carefully covered up by administrators and statistics).

    At the end of the day, it's the patient that receives inadequate care, it's the nurses that are exhausted, and it's the nurses license on the line should any legal liability result from the care she is unable to give due to inadequate staffing.

    Let's see any of the "adminstrators" who are also nurses work the floor for a week and do everything that they continually remind us to do. They can't. Because it's impossible.

    I know this for a fact. And I know for a fact that nurses and aides at that facility are signing off on care that they don't actually provide and tasks that they don't actually perform.

    30 patients to one nurse is WAY TOO MANY. 20 patients to one nurse is still too many. Hear it from the front lines - in LTC facilities, nurses should have no more than 15 residents - and in hospitals, no more than 5.

    Anyone who states otherwise has 1) never worked as a nurse or aide, 2) never been a resident or patient in an understaffed facility, and 3) is not living in reality.

    Oh - one final thought. The third floor of that facility, with 60 beds, has only ONE complete set of vital sign equipment! That is ONE tympanogram, ONE oximeter, ONE working BP cuff, NO large or small cuffs, and few if any functioning stethoscopes. No pen lights for neuro checks. No sharps containers in rooms. Only one hand sanitizer dispenser on each hall. In other words, it's BYOE (bring your own equipment). A long list of problems that made it difficult if not impossible to provide good care...
    Last edit by Colima on Apr 30, '06
    hotflashion, tokidoki7, nikkicb2004, and 26 others like this.

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  2. 83 Comments...

  3. 0
    Not 30, that's for sure!!! Not sure what the ratio is in CA for SNF's and rehab. We have a SNF in our building, I have a call in to the charge to ask her.
  4. 0
    I believe that California nurse to patient ratios only cover acute- in patient hospitals.
  5. 0
    Quote from mdfog10
    I believe that California nurse to patient ratios only cover acute- in patient hospitals.
    You're right, SNF just called me back. They have three LVN's to 44 residents.
  6. 0
    Rehab/LTC facility in PGH, the ratio is the same 30-1. The difference being there is a charge nurse who handles pretty much all the docs calls, labs, family matters etc. 30-1 is crazy, I don't know how you are doing it, if someone crashes there goes your med pass and you are hours behind!!!!!!!!!! Talk about stress. Sure hope they pay you well, but then again is it worth your license and the stress that comes with it.
  7. 3
    It can be 30 to 60 per nurse.
    CA does not have ratio laws for LTC/SNF. Only acute care facilities.

    This is the major reason that I think that it is absolutely ridiculous to place a new grad there or a foreign nurse. There are too many things to learn, and only minimal orientation. Have enver seen one give a full month of orientation. It just isn't going to happen.

    And for the foreign nurses, just the American idioms alone can cause many problems. Nursing in the US is quite different from most other countries.
  8. 3
    I just posted a similar reply about this same subject in another thread. I'm taking care of too many at a time too. I regularly have 30 or more by myself and it's killing me. Last week I had 52 by myself and thought I would die trying to get through that med pass. We lost 4 nurses last week due to this level of patient/nurse ratios. I have to do all the tx's by myself for all these pt's as well, not to mention charting. Needless to say, some days I just can't get all of it done. I concentrate on getting the med pass done first and foremost, and then the most crucial of treatments, and of course through all of this I have cont. tube feeds & tubing that need to be replaced. And never mind if you have someone crash on you or who might need to go out to the ER or if I need to get new orders from the Doc, then I'm waaaay behind. God forbid I go to the bathroom for a break in my 15 hours there. Ahhhhh.. I'm only ONE human being to cover FOUR wings. Why won't they hire more nurses???? I just don't get it. Pretty soon they are going to have ZERO nurses if they keep pushing us at this rate. What can we do? Is this just the way it is in LTC? I guess I need to go back to HHC.
    Not_A_Hat_Person, RNMLIS, and BelleKat like this.
  9. 2
    This is EXACTLY why I quit working LTC. I was working the night shift, which should have 2 LPN's for each night. It never nurse would call in, and the 3-11 nurse would have to stay over until 1 or 2 am, then I would have to count out HER cart and be the only nurse in the facility (for 86 patients at that time...) until the next nurses came in at 6 am. I contacted the OLTC and they told me that in Arkansas, they can have 1 LPN for up to 80 residents. Yes...EIGHTY residents for one nurse to take care of all night long. But if there's 81 residents, they MUST have TWO nurses. I informed our administrator about this, and he stated to my face that "We only have to have 1 nurse for 120 residents....whoever told you that doesn't know what they're talking about". So, I quit.

    Now I'm happily working in geri/psych where I'm the med nurse for a maximum of 7 patients each day. *sigh of relief*

    It's amazing what really goes on in the nursing homes that the state isn't aware of, such as the staffing "fixes" mentioned above. Every nurse in the LTC facility where I used to work signed every one of the staffing sheets, but they NEVER worked on the floor.....just in their offices. 3 days out of 7, the treatment nurse wasn't there, and we were responsible for all the dressing changes, too. It was too much, and to this day, the turnover is still bad at that facility. They've even been bought by someone else recently and hopefully they are making some good changes. It's just amazing what gets under the state's "radar" sometimes. State enters the building, and those nurses ran like chickens with their heads cut off. If they did every day what they were supposed to do, then they shouldn't be concerned about state inspections. I wasn't....I did my job! But I wouldn't risk my license to be the only nurse, at night, for 86 residents anymore. PERIOD.
    tiredbeatupRN and LockportRN like this.
  10. 0
    insane. I absolutely would not do it and would not want to place a family memebee in any LTF obviously. HOSPITAL WORK! You are taking care of patients that the hospitals take care of as well just before they send them to you, and they are staffed much better.
  11. 7
    and the acuity level has risen dramatically.
    many of these residents are dnh's, so they're treated at the facility.
    i've known many hospital nurses that tried ltc and couldn't handle the stress and responsibility.
    people just don't have any idea.


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