The patient’s condition itself is a major piece of the nurse-staffing ratio. For instance, a patient that is fresh out of surgery and arousing from anesthesia is considered to need a nurse-staffing ratio of 1 nurse to 1 patient (1:1) for the first hour of recovery. This usually takes place in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) with nurses that are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
When deemed “stable”, the patient can be transferred either to an Intensive Care Unit or to a Medical-Surgical Unit depending on the patient’s diagnosis and/or condition. For example, an uncomplicated appendectomy would go to Med-Surg but an open-heart patient would go to Cardiac ICU.
The OR, PACU, Pediatric ICU, Cardiac ICU, Medical ICU, Surgical ICU, Neonatal ICU, Labor & Delivery, and the ED – are all considered to be Intensive Care Units of a hospital. Patients that are admitted or evaluated in these units are (or are about to become) high-risk patients. The nurses working in these units of a hospital are highly specialized and the best of them are certified in that specific type of care.