Nursing staff ratio and skill mix in Swedish emergency departments: A national cross-sectional benchmark study

Maria A. Amritzer, Åsa Muntlin, Lena M. Berg, Katarina E. Göransson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: The aim of this study is to describe ratio and skill mix for nursing staff in Swedish emergency departments over a specific 24-h period. Background: The link between number of patients per nursing staff and missed nursing care is well described within the in-hospital setting, showing association with negative outcomes such as increased mortality. Potential association within the emergency department setting is still unexplored. Method: This is a national descriptive cross-sectional benchmark study. Results: The majority (n = 54; 89%) of Swedish emergency departments participated. The patients-per-registered nurse ratio varied between the shifts, from 0.3 patients to 8.8 patients (mean 3.2). The variation of patients per licenced practical nurse varied, from 1.5 to 23.5 patients (mean 5.0). The average skill mix was constant at around 60% registered nurses and 40% licenced practical nurses. Conclusion: The varying ratios for patient per registered nurse and licenced practical nurse in Swedish emergency departments are noteworthy. Furthermore, the patient flow and nursing staff numbers did not match one another, resulting in higher nursing staff ratios during the evening shift. Implications for Nursing Management: Findings can be used to improve rosters in relation to crowding, to manage the challenging recruitment and retention situation for nursing staff and to improve patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2594-2602
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number8
Early online dateJul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the valuable support provided by their points of contact for each emergency department included in the study. The study is funded by Karolinska University Hospital, Emergency Medicine Function and by Uppsala University Hospital, Department of Emergency Care and Internal Medicine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Nursing Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • emergency departments
  • nursing staff hospital
  • patient safety
  • registered nurse
  • workload


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