Using Computer Simulation to Study Nurse-to-Patient Ratios in an Emergency Department

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To study the impact of nurse-to-patient ratios on patient length of stay (LOS) in computer simulations of emergency department (ED) care.

METHODS:

Multiple 24-hour computer simulations of emergency care were used to evaluate the impact of different minimum nurse-to-patient ratios related to ED LOS, which is composed of wait (arrival to bed placement) and bedtime (bed placement to leave bed).

RESULTS:

Increasing the number of patients per nurse resulted in increased ED LOS. Mean bedtimes in minutes were impacted by nurse-to-patient ratios.

CONCLUSIONS:

In computer simulation of ED care, increasing the number of patients per nurse resulted in increasing delays in care (ie, increasing bedtime).

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