unit staffing for in house oncology pts

Specialties Oncology


I am just curious as to nurse to patient ratios in other hospitals on oncology units. Presently we have about 10-15 oncology pts on our general med/surg unit. Each nurse takes 8 pts each shift. We are a 32 bed unit. Our oncology pts are very sick, near death or getting continuous chemotherapy. It is almost impossible to meet the physical and emotional needs of pts and family with this ratio. We are not an all RN unit. The 7-3 and 3-11 shifts have charge nurses that do not take pts but the 11-7 shift charge takes her full load of 8 pts and is responsible for the RN tasks of the LPN's pts too. I am about ready to pull my hair out. Comments please......


As a nursing student on a busy medical floor with a patient population of 38, we carried a full patient assignment. This would mean 8 patients on a day shift. Some of these patients were also receiving chemo, were neutropenic and thrombocytopenic requiring hyperhydration antibiotics and blood products. I use to come in an hour earlier to prepare my antibiotics for the day shift. It was the most exhausting time of my entire nursing career (and I have been nursing for 15 years in oncology). You know, I was 21 years old and my legs would hurt so much that I would have to wear support hose and ice them when I came home!

I knew that I wanted to work in oncology, but NOT on that unit in a busy general hospital.

From there I started working at an oncology hospital in Toronto. The unit had l5 beds and we practiced team nursing, then went on to practice total patient care. We never had more then 3-4 hematology patients at a time. We were responsible for all meds including chemo and blood products. It was very civilized! Even better, my legs didn't hurt!

I would never, ever work in a setting with 8 patients again. It is dangerous. You have to take a look at your particular setting and evaluate it. I am sure you just as I would like to practice oncology nursing for a very long time.

Good luck,


I just started as a RN on an oncology floor last month, and the most patients I've seen any nurse have is 4 at a time. Sometimes, with the in depth physical and emotional care given to the pts, that seems like a big load. I'm scared to think about having 8 patient per nurse. That is outrageous!! These are special patients, and I think they deserve more quality care than that kind of ratio can offer. No nurse that I know could give high quality care facing those kinds of numbers!!

On the inpatient oncology unit that I work on, we take about 5 patients for each shift.

Specializes in Oncology/Hematology, Infusion, clinical.

Does anyone have any more recent feelings, stories or statistics regarding the original question? I'm trying desperately to salvage the morale and quality of care on my med/onc floor. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Specializes in Oncology.

I work on a very busy inpatient heme/onc floor, and we do not have LPN's. Day and evening shift we usually have 4 patients at the most 5. Nights we have 5 patients and every once in while 6. We have a 29 bed unit with 3 aides. Days has a ANM and a clinical specialist. 8 patients is way to much I could never imagine having that many patients esp. if you dont have LPN's, not to mention dangerous!

Specializes in Surgical/MedSurg/Oncology/Hospice.

I work on a 36 bed (all private rooms) unit of Oncology and Hospice pts. Day shift is usually 4 pts each. On midnights we usually have 6 pts each (ocassionally 7pts), 3-4 techs and charge nurse takes a full assignment. It's a very high acuity floor and nearly all are fall risks...if I had to take 8 pts on a regular basis I would be looking for another job.:uhoh3:

+ Add a Comment