Physical Therapy Staffing

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.

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5 Comments

  1. Vivian Dunlop

     /  November 17, 2011

    Tina:

    It seems like a few responses were for the facility and not individual therapists (ex. 75 a day). So the numbers could be slightly inflated? Thanks

    Vivian Dunlop

    Reply
  2. Tina Gunaldo

     /  November 17, 2011

    Vivian, you are correct. We even had some responses that were over 100. I removed outliers above 100 (at least I thought/hope that would be a mistake). Tina

    Reply
  3. Thomas Onoratoe

     /  November 19, 2011

    Hi-
    Could you clarify “eight-hour work day”? For example, would that refer to an 8AM-4PM shift where the therapist has an hour break an only works seven hours or would this be over an 8AM-5PM shift where the therapist has an hour break and works eight hours?
    Thanks,
    Tom

    Reply
  4. Tina Gunaldo

     /  November 21, 2011

    Tom, we did not specify the “8 hour work day” in the questionnaire, so I cannot give you an interpretation of the information provided. Maybe some of those who participated can offer us clarification. Thank you. Tina

    Reply
  5. i can say this is depend on the type of the physical therapy we provide , if it is for a case needs a long term rehabilitation the ratio should be 8 patients per Therapist in 8 hours
    for a short term rehabilitation the ratio will increase and it will be 12 patients per Therapist in 8 hours

    Reply

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