Uploaded by Georgia Rasadu

How many patients are too many

How many patients are too many…??
When working night shifts in a surgical unit, at a hospital within Alberta, a nurse
will be expected to care for eight patients. Most nurses would find this unbearable, as
patients admitted to the unit have many chronic conditions. Moreover, a substantial
number of these patients undergo major surgeries, which impose physiological
stresses on their bodies, making them more likely to develop postoperative
complications. Taking care of eight patients is overwhelming, as it’s impossible to
provide an adequate level of care, consistent with nurses' standards of practice.
Therefore, this high nurse-to-patients ratio is dangerous, as it is based solely on the
number of hospital beds available rather than patient’s acuity. Advocating on behalf
of patients is what nurses always do and they have done it extensively through many
channels, pleading for reasonable nurse-patient ratios but nothing has been
changed. The managers believe that patients sleep through the night, hardly requiring
assistance, their head-to-toe assessments should be replaced with focused assessments
(less time consuming), and documentation should be completed only by exception and
tick charting. Thus, nurses working nights should be able to effectively manage a
heavy workload. Lack of funding is another explanation the unit managers have for
these high ratios. Determining safe nurse-to-patient ratios is an ongoing process.
However, it should consider that increased workload and expectations from patients
and families, as well as high patient acuity levels, contribute to nurse fatigue,
compromising their health and patient safety, which could entail vastly increased
expenditure on the country.