Safe Staffing for the Post Anesthesia Care Unit: Weighing the Evidence and Identifying the Gaps

Myrna E. Mamaril, Ellen Sullivan, Theresa L. Clifford, Robin Newhouse, Pamela E. Windle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Postanesthesia nursing care and standards are continually evolving. ASPAN has the professional responsibility to develop standards of nursing practice to promote a safe environment of care. Currently, ASPAN's recommended staffing ratios are based on the best available evidence: expert opinion and consensus. Our Society believes that these nurse-to-patient ratios have served to provide safe, quality patient care. In 2006, the ASPAN Safe Staffing Strategic Work Team was charged with conducting a national PACU Safe Staffing Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) project. The purpose of this EBP staffing project was to search the scientific staffing evidence in an attempt to validate ASPAN's staffing ratios. This expert panel critically weighed the nursing evidence on staffing ratios, workload intensity, patient acuity, nursing-sensitive outcomes, and nursing-sensitive indicators, including appropriate critical care studies because of the scarce number of postanesthesia studies. The outcome of this dynamic initiative revealed the need to develop nursing-sensitive perianesthesia indicators that can provide patient outcomes used to assess the effectiveness of staffing ratios. Finally, research gaps were identified and the next steps in the generation of knowledge needed to build safe staffing evidence were identified in ASPAN's Strategic Research Staffing Plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-399
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Perianesthesia Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • adverse outcomes
  • nurse-patient ratios
  • nursing-sensitive indicators
  • postanesthesia
  • staffing ratios

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medical–Surgical

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