Staffing rules and regulations? HELP!!!!

  1. Ok, I am at work right now. I work in a small 6 bed ICU. We have ONE pt in the unit right now. And I am all by myself with one pt who is a full code and on a ventilator via tracheostomy. I don't think this is legal myself but apparently this facility does this all the time when staffing is low. The place I work is in PA. Where can I find out if this is legal. I don't even have an aide to help out. I have to BEG for help from the detox unit right outside our unit. WOuld this fall under the BON or the Dept of Health? Thanks!
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    About RNforLongTime, BSN

    Joined: Mar '01; Posts: 2,730; Likes: 600


  3. by   ccrnjen
    I don't know about the specific legalities involved in this - I would check AACN's site to see if they have any guidelines as they are probably your best resource. Your BON may have something.

    From my experience, whenever the census is down, we had a policy that if there was 1 patient, there must be 2 staff - it's been a long time, but I'm pretty sure it was 2 RN's. Not only for basic care issues - turning, etc - but also for the case of a pt going down hill quickly or coding.

    I would be worried if I was you - I do believe this is a patient safety issue. Good luck finding the support you need to get things changed!
  4. by   Sugah Britches
    I too work in a small rural CCU.. we have 5 beds. It is only staffed by one nurse per shift. We are adjoining to the ED, if there are any pblms we are to grab someone from the ED. The major problem that I have is that in addition to my patients, I am watching 10 tele's from another floor. If I have a really time consumming pt's how can I ensure that I would catch the bells and whistles timely and notify the nurses upstairs...
  5. by   collegemomrn
    I also work a small rural 8 bed multipurpose ICU. We are completely professional, meaning only RN's work here. It has been our practice to have 2 nurses in the unit even if there is only one patient, especially a vent patient. The closest unit to us is down the hall ans to the left down another hall. I believe that there should always be 2 nurse in a critical care unit if there are patients. It is our ICU policy, I am not sure what the law is. I have been alone during a nurse's going for a tray and a patient coded. The vent blocked the way to reach the code button. It is an awful feeling being alone. I hate to see someone die in your hospital before they correct their thinking on staffing. We do not staff the rest of the hospital either. We are a closed unit. We help on the floor only by being an aid or admit nurse. Good luck finding out the answer to your problem. Try the ANA or AACN.
  6. by   Zee_RN
    From what I understand, there is no "law" regarding the specific number of caregivers to be available. But what you described in definitely unsafe. The Board of Health may be interested but I don't believe there are any legalities involved.