NICE Calls for Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) claims that one nurse for more than eight adult patients may affect the quality of care provided and could, in fact, lead to inadequate care. Hospital boards and senior management should take the nurse-to-patient guidelines into action, in conjunction with a National Quality Board 2013 report.

Although the draft created by NICE doesn’t recommend minimum ratios, it highlights the importance of noting “red flag events”. Red flag events are events which require immediate response, such as providing assistance to patients who need to use the restroom, and administering medication. The higher number of patients a nurse has, the more likely such events will be attended to in a delayed manner.

In order to provide the highest quality care possible hospitals should monitor capacity, support flexibility, focus on patient care, promote staff training and education, and monitor the skills of their current nursing staff. From there, organizations should take patient conditions under consideration, and ensure there are enough nurses available to provide constant monitoring to patients who require it.

In the United States, nurses call for lower nurse-to-patient ratios, with nearly 44 percent of nurses reporting they haven’t been able to provide proper patient care at least once due to under staffing. Currently, nurses and nursing students close to completing their education throughout the country have been squaring off against hospitals in a legislative battle.