Nurse patient ratio

Nurses General Nursing


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7 Posts

Hi all

In the hospital where I work, the ratio is 1 nurse to 6 patients

But it would be better if the number is less where the nurse can provide good patient care

And in critical areas 1 to 1 as usual

Specializes in Psych, Med/Surg, Home Health, Oncology.


I work nites & have done so for almost 30 yrs. I have seen many changes and many trends come and go.

Right now, I work in a large city hospital; we are owned by a large corporation with quite a few hospitals. I work oncology.

Our ratio is up to 7 patients. For the most part is 6 to 7, occasionally 5.

I find it is really the acuity of the patient that really counts verses the numbers.

I can have 3 patients at times & be busier then when I have 7.

At the other hospital I worked a few years ago, it was much worse--we would even at times get up to 19 patients. In that case, tho we had a lot more ancillary help. That was really awful at times.

Like I said, it really depends on acuity, altho no one ever really looks at this anymore.

I think you did the right thing by passing on that job and telling them why you did.


21 Posts

Gee, when I worked nights I would have loved to have had only 6 patients. Often times our ward was split between 2 RNs. Each of us generally had [but that wasn't always] 1 LVN. Each RN generally had 10 to 12 patients. I work in a VA hospital so our acuity level is generally a 2-3 -- and I was the only oncology trained nurse on nights so I got all of them when I was on. We also only had 1 unit secretary for the entire hospital on nights so we were left to fend for ourselves for any new orders, emergencies and 24 hour chart checks as well as IVs.

Like others in this thread --- I'm glad I don't work the wards anymore!:roll :roll

bellehill, RN

566 Posts

Specializes in Neuro Critical Care.

The other night I had 9 patients on a medical-oncology floor. I was miserable. I didn't have time to read charts and when I gave report I felt like I didn't know the patients at all. In my interview I was told the ratio was 6-7:1, those are the good nights! Sometimes I wish I didn't work the floor anymore.


15 Posts

i work in a small hospital. on the night shift, which i usually work, i take care of all the patients for the most part. there are also 2 RNs, one does meds and the other does ER and goes through the charts nightly. i am totally screwed and exhausted if we are full (24 beds). on the day shift (which is a whole different subject) if they have more than 4-5 patients each, they call in another LPN. no, we don't have aides, that's what the LPNs are in my hospital. only difference is we can pass oral meds.


66 Posts

Wow i just have a few questions, where do you gals and boys work if you don't work floor anymore? Seems to be a lot on this thread. I know the orginal thread was asking nurse patient ratio on oncology but med-surg really is bad lately with all this flu and pneumonias going around, we can have 15 patients easy. 6 patients would be heaven.


121 Posts

I was talked into (by my agency)going to work in a small hospital 50 miles away without travel reimburement.I was offered an insulting contract pay wise,but I needed to work.I went there with an open mind for orientation,trying to keep in mind this was a small hospital and could not afford to pay me a lot but promised all the overtime i wanted).I asked what the nurse/pt ratio was and they told me they didn't call it that anymore.I said let me rephrase this,I don't care what you call it,how many nurses to each pt at nite and what is your max.12 on a tele floor (mixed with peds during season).The only reply to my comment of "you have got to be kidding me "was well you have a monitoror tech(not a nurse) by them.I asked what happens if a nurse calls out( the others p/up the slack). I politely excused myself and headed to the don's office and asked her if this was true.Yep.I was nice but matter of fact that I found this unacceptable and truly shocking that this staffing was even allowed in America and no nurse in their right mind would risk his/her license to tolerate this ratio on a regular basis.i had never said anything like this before at a job.i was polite, but made my point. Thank God I insisted on an orientation before i signed that contract.:eek:

TiffyRN, BSN, PhD

2,315 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.

I worked Med/Surg/Telemetry for 10 years before changing to NICU (love it). I've seen average assignments of 4-10 patients per nurse. Granted the 10 patients did come with a truly wonderful tech to myself but it was busy. The true average through the years has been about 6 patients and that was on night shift. Also, and I know many others feel this way, I would rather take 2 more patients than the other nurses rather than deal with an admission but that's life. Sadly, I'm not considered experienced enough yet in NICU to admit patients. :chuckle

Went for a job interview today. Was quoted 7 to 8 patient ratio for days on med/surg tele unit. I am not interested! Nights are 9 or 10 patients per nurse. When I asked about nursing model they practiced (team or primary) she literally asked what I was asking about. The person I talked to literally acted like nurses are available and easily obtained. Guess that is why a patient was yelling the whole time I was in the office for help. She was so well staffed I only saw 4 nurses. What a crock. Guess the search is to continue.


39 Posts

Maybe you should come to atlanta, all the nurse recruiters and nurse managers here have bent over backwards to accomodate me and I am just a new grad. Imagine what they might do for an experienced nurse!


21 Posts

In response to not working on the floor anymore - for 2 years I did an outpatient chemo unit that we have inside the hospital [keep in mind that we are a VA hospital so we do primary care, surgery, specialty care, etc. all in one setting] that I absolutely loved.

I was then approached by one of the executives to take over the cost accounting system which is predominately clinical which I did reluctantly but was looking for ways to move up -which I did. In this hospital if you are in nursing there basically are no perks, no seniority. I have been in this job for 5 years now and loathe it. I am trying to get back to working with patients again although more in an outpatient setting such as a case manager or in the new line of Telemedicine.


21 Posts

It isn't about the numers or the ratios it is all about the acuity....I work in California and where I work we are going to 4:1. I work in an Acute rehabilitation setting and we have been working with six patients on night shift and some times I am bored out of my mind and other times I can bearly even breath. It really depends on the acuity of your patients and not the amount of patients!!!!!

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