Nurse-patient Ratios

Specialties Oncology


I'm a nursing student, attempting to do a written report on nurse-staff ratios in oncology units.

Can anyone give me some direct input on the ratios existing today in your in-patient facilities?

I've read mega articles concerning the new legislation in California, mandating 1-5 ratios next year, narrowing to 1-4 ratios by 2008. I would love to get some comparisons of what's really going on out "in the real world" today!

Any input you can give will be tremendously appreciated. Many thanks!:cool:

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

1 to 5 dayshift where I work. I believe it stays the same evenings, and not much more than that at night. It's a tele floor.


250 Posts

The oncology floor I float to now and then has a nurse to patient ratio of 1:11 most of the time. Pretty poor numbers if you ask me! I feel sorry for those poor nurses because they are always trying to recruit people to work there, but no one ever stays. They don't want to work in such poor numbers. However, I do give those nurses who have stuck around a huge thumbs up because the keep a positive attitude and work well together no matter what the circumstances.

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

Dang 1/11 on oncology sucks.............especially if your doing chemo and such. Does the unit you float to do BMT or stem cell transplants?


Usually 1:4 on days, 1:4 to 1:6 on evenings, and 1:8 to 1:10 on nights. They purchased this new computer software that determined the ratio based on acuity of the pt, orientated the staff, and then STILL determine ratio by the NUMBER of pts on the unit. I've had teams of 6 pts that were a breeze but then you get that one pt (or team of 4) requiring so much of your time that you could scream! I can tell you now that they talk "acuity" until it comes to staffing and then they base it on actual numbers of pts.

Thanks for all of your input. I found all of your information very helpful, and have now completed my paper. After further investigating things, and really thinking about them (without the benefit of work experience, an admitted hinderance to my cause), I took the written perspective that it's not just about nurse-to-patient ratios, but more specifically about STAFF-to-patient ratios. You could have 1:3 ratio of nurses, but if you're nurse assistant ratio is not appropriate, that would have a tremendous effect on nurse availability, even to her 3 patients, correct?

I can't WAIT to get out of school and join you "in the real world." In the meantime, THANKS for all you do for the patients of today! I'm anxious to help you with them! Jeanne


3 Posts

Jeamme, how did your report come out? If you have it on computer, are you willing to share it? I'd love to see it.


36 Posts

The unit I work on was Oncology but no BMT. Our ratio on days was anywhere form 1-4, to 1-6/7. Once it became 6 or 7 patients on days I left. Hanging chemo and blood with that many patients was dangerous.


14 Posts

I was on staff at a hospital in the DC/No VA area where the ratio started as 1/4, then quickly moved to 1/5. I have left there to travel but I know that many days, they are seeing 1/7. 1/5 is manageable if the acuity is not too bad but 1/7 can only mean one thing.... POOR PATIENT CARE!! I am now on assignment at National Institutes of Health... Surgical Oncology and the ratio is 3/1 on day shift and usually the same or 4/1 on nights. This facility is very well staffed. However, they refer to " the real world" or " the outside world" when talking about community and other hospitals.

Frankly, I think that each state should set standards like CA did. It would mean much better patient care and patient satisfaction. Some states are reluctant, I know because of the financial burden it would put on facilities but I say.... What about the patient.... and the nurses????

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