AJCC Study Examines NP/PA Critical Care Staffing

May 01, 2015

Added to Collection

Increased use of nurse practitioners, physician assistants leads to first national study on provider-to-patient ratios in the ICU

National study published in American Journal of Critical Care identifies factors that impact ratios, provides guidance for staffing

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. — May 1, 2015 —The first national study to examine the ratio of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to patients may help hospital administrators better determine appropriate staffing levels in acute and critical care units. 

Advanced practice providers such as NPs and PAs are increasingly integrated into multidisciplinary staffing models in acute and critical care units, but data about provider-to-patient ratios have been limited.

Published in the May issue of the American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC),“Patient-to-Provider Ratios for Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in Critical Care Settings: Results From a National Survey” is the first national study to report on advanced practice provider-to-patient ratios in intensive care units (ICUs) and other acute and critical care settings.

 Provider-to-patient ratios in the ICU were reported to average 1:5 for both NP and PA providers. In pediatric ICUs, NPs reported that ratios averaged 1:4. In critical care settings that integrated fellows and medical residents, NP or PA provider-to-patient ratios averaged 1:4.

The researchers identified a number of factors that impact patient-to-provider ratios, including the severity of the patients’ illnesses, the number of patients in the unit and the number of providers in the unit. Other factors included patient diagnosis, the number of physicians in the unit, time of day and the number of fellows and medical residents on service.

 Lead author Ruth Kleinpell, RN-CS, PhD, FCCM, is a noted nurse researcher who leads the Center for Clinical Research, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.

 “Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have become essential members of the ICU team who can assist in patient care management as well as promote implementation of evidence-based practice and continuity of care,” Kleinpell said. “These results provide much-needed guidance for those responsible for appropriate staffing coverage and strategic planning for patient care in acute and critical care units.”

An experienced acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP) herself, Kleinpell is considered one of the leading experts on ACNP practice. Results from this study will provide an essential foundation for future effectiveness studies examining the impact of ACNPs on healthcare outcomes.

For the study, the researchers conducted an online survey of NPs and PAs who are members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Academy of Physician Assistants or the Society of Critical Care Medicine, collecting 433 responses from providers currently practicing in the United States and Canada.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) funded Kleinpell’s study with an Impact Research Grant, which supports clinical inquiry that drives change in high acuity and critical care nursing practice. 

To access the article and its full-text PDF, visit the AJCC website at http://www.aacn.org/education/publications/ajcc.

About the American Journal of Critical Care: The American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC), a bimonthly scientific journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides leading-edge clinical research that focuses on evidence-based practice applications. Established in 1992, it includes clinical and research studies, case reports, editorials and commentaries. AJCC enjoys a circulation of more than 101,000 acute and critical care nurses and can be accessed at http://www.aacn.org/education/publications/ajcc. 

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN joins together the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and claims more than 235 chapters worldwide. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
101 Columbia
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109

Phone: (949) 362-2000
Fax: (949) 362-2020