ICU ratios????

Nurses General Nursing



I'm a student and am planning on going into ICU after I graduate. I 'm just wondering what the typical nurse to patient ratio is in the ICU. I'm not talking about California - I know they have laws on a ratio of 1 nurse : 2 patients. I'm just trying to get an idea what's typical everywhere else. Thanks in advance.


I work in a MRICU in Philly and we're usually 1:2.

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,495 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

It's 2:1 here as well. Sometimes 1:1 as with a donor case, someone whose recieving a lot of blood, gtts, etc. Sometimes, not often a nurse has to go 3:1 if a patient crashes or codes on the floor, until an oncall can come in. Usually that nurse has "stable" patients, that need monitoring but aren't critically ill, so he/she is tripled, but that is still not desirable, but unfortunately the reality.

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VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

108 Articles; 9,984 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

In our ICU it's generally 1:1, although I've had 2 pts. at a time who were basically med/surg (r/o MI, etc.) except for frequent monitoring and/or titratable drips. It's a nice change, and I like to take DKAs especially, even though I'm about the only med/surg nurse who's comfortable with insulin drips. (I don't do vents, however....they scare me!) I've even thought about becoming an ICU nurse, and may do so at some time in the future when my old joints and feet and back can no longer handle the floor. It's intense, to be sure, but when I float to ICU I find I'm able to give the patients really good care.......there's time to do the oral care and the bathing and the lotioning and the back rubs that just don't get done on M/S anymore. Hmmm......maybe I ought to think a little harder about this.......


583 Posts are a new is it going? I know you just started not long ago at all but tell me how you fell about it. Are you on the night shift?



422 Posts

2:1 or 1:1 here in AZ.

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

We are usually 1:2, 1:1 if it is a very complicated patient or fresh post op heart (well we keep that 1:1 for as long as wel can anyway...I have been doubled with fresh hearts if we are short...)


244 Posts

1:2 most of the time, 1:1 occasionally. We have a lot of organ donors in my unit, but if we're full they can be paired. Our charge nurse is usually very good about helping out though and as long as we're not short we manage pretty well with those ratios.


I LOVE my job. I just started a week ago, so I haven't had that much time on the unit yet (mostly general hospital orientation) but from what I have been on the unit I really, really like it. They are giving me really easy patients so far and trying to ease me into it slowly. Next week is some more general orientation and then I'm off to my critical care course. So far it seems like I'm going to get a really good orientation. Right now I'm on days with rotation, but I hope to go to permanent nights after my orientation is over.


240 Posts

We are a 20 bed Trauma/Medical/Surgical ICU. If we are fully staffed (which is almost every day....we rarely run short...we are very lucky), we have four patients that are 1:1 and the other 16 are 2:1. The 1:1 are usually on CRRT, lots of gtts, donors, etc...

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