According to results from a study involving more than a thousand ICUs in 75 countries, a high nurse to patient ratio in intensive care units was independently associated with a lower risk of in-hospital deaths. Not only does the study reinforce the importance of having good staffing, but it stresses the importance of good staffing in intensive care units, where you have your most critically ill patients.
Time constraints related to a reduced nurse to patient ratio can increase the likelihood of mistakes by creating a stressful environment with distractions and interactions that can negatively impact the quality of care. ICUs in North America had a nurse to patient ratio of 1:1.5 in the morning, and 1:1.6 in the evening. The ratios were significantly lower in Western Europe and Latin America, which had an average of 1:1.8.
While the results were scientifically gathered, the authors noted that there may have been selection bias since the study was voluntary. Also, data collected on a single day may not accurately represent the other days. They cautioned that their study was exploratory and the data required confirmation through subsequent studies. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, take the first step by enrolling in Vocational Nursing (LVN) program.