by Tina Gunaldo, PT, DPT, MHS
First, let me thank all of those who participated in the HPA’s first Burning Question. This area is an open blog for anyone to view and offer input on the topic of Physical Therapy Staffing. The question we asked was “How many patients does a PT or PTA see in an 8 hour day?” For detailed information on the results, please visit the HPA website, where you can view or download the responses in spreadsheet format (members only).
The providers of information were mostly in an administrative or supervisory role as compared to a clinical role. Most of the information collected was from staff in Acute Care and Outpatient Hospital-based settings. The average number of patients seen by a clinician in an 8 hour day varied by setting, 6 (IRF) – 17.6 (OP Private Practice) patients.
When you review the literature, you may find information on how health care provider staffing affects patient safety and patient outcomes (Decker, F.H., 2008). There are many factors which influence clinician staffing, such as the setting, patient diagnosis, state or federal regulations and number of support staff. Many managers also seek information on staffing for productivity reasons.
There are many trends in health care, including transparency and value-based purchasing. HealthCare.gov and Leapfroggroup.org are examples of national organization websites pushing transparency in health care. Some health care facilities in Massachusetts and New Jersey are required to post staffing ratios. New England Baptist in Massachusetts has a site that indicates the direct number of hours of direct care a patient can expect to receive from an RN, and in New Jersey, hospitals are required to report and post staffing and patient-to-staff ratios. There are many reasons mangers review staffing plans, and relating clinician:patient ratios to patient outcomes should be considered.
The HPA hopes that the Burning Question, the results from the survey and this blog have provided you with some valuable information and food for thought on the topic of Physical Therapy Staffing.
Tina Gunaldo is Chair of the HPA Member Services Committee and a member of the HPA Board of Directors.