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Nurse Staffing

At Northwestern Medicine, the nurse workforce includes registered nurses (RN) and patient care technicians (PCT). Together they provide direct patient care. The number of nursing staff can have a positive impact on patient safety and quality of care. Improved patient outcomes have been linked to higher levels of nurse (RN and PCT) staff.

The number of nursing staff caring for patients is determined by how many patients are in the hospital and the nursing care requirements of patients. Nursing hours per patient day is the total number of nursing staff providing patient care compared to the number of patients. The nursing hours reflect the number and complexity of patients for each clinical area. 

While there are no state or national requirements for specific staffing levels, many hospitals measure “nursing hours per patient day” as a way to monitor and improve quality of care and service.  In Illinois, hospitals must report these data to the Department of Public Health.

About this measure

This measure tracks the nursing staff hours per patient day, which is the total number of direct nursing care hours (RNs and PCTs) compared to the number of patients in the hospital. 

Please note: The NDNQI database is proprietary and we cannot display the comparison data, but we receive reports quarterly which indicate how our hospital compares to the database. That comparison is expressed as "observed" vs. "expected." The nursing hours per patient day for this measure is expressed as the observed (actual) hours per patient day compared to the expected (mean) hours per patient day. A value of 1.0 would mean that the nursing staff hours per patient day was exactly as expected. A rate higher than 1.0 means that the nursing staff level was higher (better) than expected, and a rate below 1.0 means that the nursing staff level was lower (worse) than expected. 

Note: In this case, a higher number is better.