Nursing responsibilities vary across different oncology infusion centers in the United States. A standard staffing model to provide efficiency of clinical services and patient safety currently does not exist, and the variability of roles can lead to unnecessary costs to the healthcare system. A recent study sought to define the roles of infusion nurses to create efficiencies within the clinical setting, potentially reduce RN staffing requirements, achieve cost savings, and develop a targeted nurse-to-patient ratio that also maintains quality care.

Georgina T. Rodgers, BSN, RN, NE-BC, from the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, presented the findings during a poster session at the ONS 41st Annual Congress in San Antonio, TX. The poster was titled “Establishing an Infusion Nurse Staffing Model for Outpatient Oncology Treatment Centers.”

First, Rodgers and colleagues compiled daily patient volume and hours of operation for each outpatient site. They then created a staffing template to predict the number of RNs needed for treatment and analyzed infusion sites to observe workflows. The researchers used an hours-per-unit method using billed charges for technical procedures, and a final target ratio of 1:6 was identified and used.

The pilot site was originally staffed with 14 RN full-time employees, though the analysis indicated that many non-clinical, non-nursing duties were being performed by RNs. After improving roles and functionalities, the site now currently functions with five RN full-time employees.

In summary, Rodgers noted, “The implications of establishing this standard for infusion nursing has allowed us to duplicate the methodology across the health system and achieve a level of staffing that matches well with patient care needs. We have maximized the efficiency of the nursing team, reduced costs, and there has been no decline or compromise in quality or patient safety.”

Rodgers, G.T. (2016). Establishing an infusion nurse staffing model for outpatient oncology treatment centers. Poster presented at the ONS 41st Annual Congress, San Antonio, TX, April 28–May 1, 2016.