Law on RN per unit?


Hello fellow nurses!

I am an RN in a facility in TN that has recently opened a new unit. This unit is a locked unit, and so far doesn't have many patients. Because it is new, it is being staffed from my unit, a rehab unit. My unit has had nurses in overtime in order to cover our shifts, but now that this new unit is open, we are in greater need because of it.

The new unit has had as few as 3 patients on it, and one night only staffed one RN. My question is, is that legal? I don't think it is, but I'm having a hard time finding proof that it isn't. What about LPN's? if it is legal for one nurse to be on her own in a locked unit, can that nurse be an LPN?

Also, if there is a charge nurse on my rehab floor, can that charge nurse be charge over the locked unit too?

I'm fairly certain the answer to these questions is no, but please tell me where I can get proof that it is illegal in TN?

JustBeachyNurse, LPN

1 Article; 13,952 Posts

Specializes in Complex pedi to LTC/SA & now a manager. Has 13 years experience.

TN state board of nursing or the state agency that licenses hospital facilities would be your best source. Only CA has legally mandated nurse to patient ratios for hospitals


214 Posts

Has 16 years experience.

Probably the best thing you can do is look to any specialty nurse organizations that would have a nurse patient ratio recommendation and clinical guidelines. You could use these to point out that if an incident occurs while not in compliance with those guidelines then the hospital is opening itself up to a lawsuit. Risk management would probably be your biggest supporter.