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Nurse to patient ratio in a nursing home

Updated July 19, 2017

No law exists to determine ratios of nurses to nursing-home residents. Rather, such ratios reflect what residents need and what facilities can afford, with fewer patients per nurse tending to indicate better care.

No Mandatory Ratio

The law governing nurse staffing---title 42, part 483.30 of the Code of Federal Regulations---mandates no specific ratio of nurses to nursing-home residents. It merely demands that the facility have sufficient nurses to attain the highest practicable well-being of each resident.

Resident Needs

Some nursing homes might require more nurses due to their residents' medical conditions, notes the official website for Medicare.

Funding

Determining "sufficient" staffing will also depend partly on funding. Cuts in federal funding for nursing homes likely foreshadow cuts in nursing staff, observes Medical News Today.

Care

Encompassing the vast majority of U.S. nursing homes, an analysis appeared in the journal "Nursing Economics," May 19, 2006. It suggests that cuts in reductions in nurse-to-resident ratios, if they occur, might drastically diminish the quality of nursing-home care.

Context

Nurse aides, not nurses, provide most of the direct care for nursing-home residents, notes Annette Lueckenotte, RN, in her book "Gerontologic Nursing, 2nd Ed." Hence, quality of care at any given facility might depend mainly on the nurse aides, regardless of precise ratios of nurses to residents.

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About the Author

Since the mid-1990s, Michael Drwiega has done both scholarly and fiction writing, his dissertation published by UMI and other works recognized in "The Journal of Gerontological Nursing," "The National Catholic Register," "The Writer's Journal" and "Writer's Digest." He holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Iowa.