A gap between need and reality: neonatal nursing staff requirements on a German intensive care unit

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Christian Patry
Monika Schindler
Julia Reinhard
Steffen Hien
Süha Demirakca
Thomas Böhler *
Thomas Schaible
(*) Corresponding Author:
Thomas Böhler | thomas.boehler@uni-heidelberg.de


Recently, new staffing rules for neonatal nurses in intensive care units (ICU) were issued in Germany, using categories of care of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine as blueprint. Neonates on intensive care require a nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:1, on intensive surveillance (high dependency care) of 1:2. No requirements exist for special care, transitional care, and pediatric ICU patients. Using these rules, nursing staff requirement was calculated over a period of 31 consecutive days once a day in a combined pediatric and neonatal ICU of a metropolitan academic medical center in south-west Germany. Each day, 18.9±0.98 patients (mean±standard deviation) were assessed (14.26±1.21 neonatal, 4.65±0.98 pediatric). Among neonates, 9.94±2.56 received intensive therapy, 3.77±1.85 intensive surveillance, and 0.65±0.71 special care. Average nursing staff requirement was 12.10±1.81 full time equivalents (FTE) per shift. Considering additional pediatric patients in the ICU and actual nursing staff availability (8.97±0.87 FTE per shift), this ICU seems understaffed.

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