4 Ways OHOW’s Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Makes a Big Difference
When people talk about quality patient care, they often discuss the “nurse-to-patient ratio.” But what does nurse-to-patient ratio mean? Moreover, how do you know if the hospital has a good or even excellent nurse-to-patient ratio? Does it really make a difference?
The term refers to how many patients each nurse is assigned during a shift. These patients are the nurse’s responsibility and they oversee patient care, ensuring all needs are met. An excellent nurse-to-patient ratio means that the nurse is only assigned a few patients so they can focus on providing the best care possible.
The numbers that make up a good or excellent nurse-to-patient ratio vary from hospital to hospital, department to department, and even shift to shift. California is the only state with legal requirements around the nurse-to-patient ratio. Otherwise, it’s up to the hospital or hospital unit’s discretion. It is not uncommon in larger urban areas for the nurse to patient ratio to be as low as one nurse to five patients in specialty care.
At the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, we know the importance of an excellent nurse-to-patient ratio. We keep our nurse to patient ratio as high as possible because we know it translates to better, safer care and higher quality outcomes. We usually limit our nurses to two patients per nurse and guarantee only three patients per nurse, even on our busiest days. This attention to individual care makes an outsized difference in patient satisfaction and positive outcomes. Here are 4 ways our high nurse-to-patient ratio contributes to high-quality care at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin.
1. Nurses Have More Time to Focus on You, the Patient
Our excellent nurse-to-patient ratio allows our care team to provide our patients with the individual attention they deserve during their stay. We want to ensure our nurses get to know each patient on a personal level. This level of responsiveness is only possible when they’re allowed time to focus on their medical tasks and connect with patients.
Communication is a vital piece of the quality care puzzle as well. With smaller, more manageable patient loads, our nurses can focus on every patient. Being responsible for fewer patients allows our nurses to spend extra time in rooms, answer questions, and discuss recovery. Customized care meets patients’ needs and ensures their confidence in post-op rehabilitation requirements and steps of the recovery process.
Surgery and recovery are often new, unfamiliar experiences for many of our patients. They may have questions like, “Is this normal?” and “Should I feel this way?” Excellent nurse-to-patient ratios ensure our nurses do their job well, with ample time to help patients navigate the unknown.
The excellent nurse-to-patient ratio ensures nurses can help patients with needs and requests; as a result, patient satisfaction increases. We sincerely appreciate our patients and want to make them as comfortable as possible during their stay. Adequate time helps nurses not only meet patients’ needs but to exceed their expectations.
2. Excellent Nurse-to-Patient Ratios Lower the Risk for Errors
Even though healthcare is a science, mistakes are still possible. As with any situation in life, human error can result in minor or even substantial miscalculations. Studies show when nurses are overworked and fatigued, mistakes are more likely. This risk is another critical reason for safeguarding an excellent nurse-to-patient ratio.
When you have a high nurse-to-patient ratio, it results in fewer medication dispensing errors and a lower incidence of “slip and fall” injuries. Our nurses have the necessary time to thoroughly think through every decision, preventing mistakes. Because they know the patients personally, they’re more than a room number—they’re a fellow human being. Personal connections with nursing staff also help patients feel comfortable asking for help and clarifying instructions.
Additionally, an excellent nurse-to-patient ratio allows nurses time to consult their peers on decisions. You’ve probably heard the adage, “two minds are better than one.” Instead of rushing decisions, they collaborate and discuss patient care to make sure they’re choosing the best course of action. Not only does this cooperation help to prevent errors, but it also increases positive outcomes.
OHOW’s excellent nurse-to-patient ratio allows us to eliminate the preventable errors that arise when nurses are overworked and overstressed. OHOW received the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award for being one of the nation’s top hospitals for patient safety due to our low rate of preventable medical errors, infections, and other complications.
3. Nurses Have a Higher Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is essential for success in any career. When employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, it can translate to poor performance and negative results—not something that should happen in patient care! Nursing is a profession that requires a commitment to the highest quality in care for every patient during every shift.
Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin was named one of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Top Workplaces and one of Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare. We’re always actively working to ensure our staff members love their job. We know job satisfaction translates to higher productivity and better outcomes for all patients. Our CEO, Brian Cramer, makes it his mission to recognize and appreciate staff daily. His commitment is apparent through our many staff luncheons, outings, and giveaways.
A study done from 2014 to 2018 in Massachusetts hospitals found that 77% of nurses feel they are assigned too many patients to provide adequate care. In healthcare, a patient’s wellbeing is in our hands; we can’t take risks with nurses who feel disconnected from their job. Our excellent nurse-to-patient ratio is part of our strong culture at OHOW, so our nurses always feel valued.
Nursing is a gratifying career, where one goes home at night knowing they made a difference in someone else’s life. Having an excellent nurse-to-patient ratio allows our nurses to reap the full positive benefits of their job. After a shift, they know they provided the best possible care for their patients during their stay at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin.
4. Patients Receive Higher Quality Care
Any injury is stressful. Patients are going through a new, sometimes painful experience. When patients walk through our door, they can relax and rest assured their needs are covered. Smaller patient care loads translate to better, personalized care. We feel a high nurse-to-patient ratio is essential for providing patients with outstanding treatment.
Communication allows nurses to understand and meet each patients’ needs. When patients or their families have questions about the nuances of their procedure, treatment, or care plan, nurses have time to listen and answer. When a patient presses the “call” button at our hospital, our nurses respond quickly to any request, going above and beyond to meet patients’ needs.
One way we measure how well we’re doing our job is through HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey responses. Each patient receives the opportunity to share their experience, and as a result, we’ve earned awards for quality care. OHOW has received the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for our HCAHPS results, every year since 2010. We know our high patient satisfaction rates are heavily based on the care provided by our nurses.
Our nurses don’t feel rushed. They’re able to make the best care decisions and never feel overwhelmed by their patient load. We believe every patient should feel they received adequate attention and that their needs were met during their stay—the results of this uncommon dedication to patient satisfaction show.
At OHOW, we specialize and focus on orthopedics, which means our nurses are experts in treating orthopedic injuries. With our nurses’ skills in the field and their manageable patient loads, every patient in our hands will always receive top-quality orthopedic care.
If you are experiencing an orthopedic injury, reach out to the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin today. You can rest assured that when you come to OHOW, we will always provide high-quality care with excellent staffing ratios. Our staff focuses on you so that you can fully focus on your return to health.