ENA-developed Tool Helps EDs Calculate Nursing Staff Needs

December 4, 2023 Education ENA ENA University Healthy Work Environment Staffing

Appropriate staff levels can improve patient outcomes, ED nurse workloads 

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Dec. 4, 2023) – Emergency departments are clinically unique environments because they cannot control the number of patients who arrive and cannot turn people away, regardless of space, staffing or patient needs. Maintaining appropriate nurse staffing is vital for patient outcomes as well as workload and staff retention.

The Emergency Nurses Association recently launched its Emergency Department Staffing Calculation Tool that walks the user through a process using patient census and length of stay to evaluate and project the full-time equivalents needed. 

The tool, developed using data from more than 200 emergency departments, also guides the user in collecting the types of information needed to substantiate staffing needs and provides tips for communicating those needs to senior leaders.

“ENA’s ED Staffing Calculation Tool considers the time involved in not only completing care-related tasks but also the complex decision-making which precedes that work,” said ENA President Terry Foster, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CCRN, TCRN, FAEN. “The work ENA’s research and education teams have done to create this evidence-based process should prove to be beneficial across large and small EDs that have a variety of skill and experience levels within their nursing teams.”

EDs with inadequate staffing can lead to delays in care, medication errors, longer lengths of stay and increased morbidity. Understaffed EDs can also lead to nurse fatigue and unhealthy work environments, according to ENA research that helped inform the calculation tool’s development.

The ED Staffing Calculation Tool is free to ENA members and available for purchase by non-members through the ENA University website.