A study of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse-to-patient ratios has found sizeable clinical and economic benefits to having more nurses on the bedside.
The study, conducted by a team at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, studied 366 patients at 52 acute-care hospitals following an oesophageal resection.
It found that, where a nurse was caring for more than two ICU patients at night, the risk of several postoperative pulmonary and infectious complications increased. For example, the cohort which had ratios of more than one nurse to two patients had rates of pneumonia, reintubation and septicaemia double those who had safer ratios.
Further, the group with higher nurse-to-patient ratios saw a 39% increase in median in-hospital stays as a result of the increased number of complications.
Ultimately, this resulted in an increase in costs, averaging $4,810 per patient. This calculation took into account the added cost of increased hospital stays and medication, as well as the cost of nursing and medical staff.
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