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What is a "nurse-patient ratio"?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner
A nurse-patient ratio can be defined as how many patients one nurse provides care for at one time. The nurse-patient ratio depends on many factors. One of those factors is the severity of the patients that the nurse is providing care for. e.g. if a nurse works in an ICU the nurse-patient ratio may be 1 nurse to 1 or 2 patients. If a nurse works in another unit where the patients are not as sick the nurse-patient ratio may be 1 nurse caring for up to 4 or 5 patients. Many hospital units have criteria that dictates the amount of patients one nurse can care for at one time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.