Nursing hours per patient day is calculated by taking the total number of nursing staff providing care divided by the total number of patients in a given day. This number helps to reflect the actual amount of patients on a unit and determine staffing levels.
Maintaining adequate nurse staffing levels is important because of the potential patient safety implications of too-low staffing levels. According to studies by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, lower nurse staffing levels are linked to higher rates of adverse patient outcomes. Such adverse outcomes include urinary tract infections, pneumonia and increased length of stay. In addition, the studies found a correlation between low staffing levels and high nurse dissatisfaction.