What is the Average Number of Babies is NICU Nurse Responsible for at Once?

NICU nurses provide care for newborns that have different health issues.

Acutely ill newborns require intensive and focused care, so NICU nurses have a lower ratio of patients compared to floor nurses.

The number of newborns that each NICU nurse is responsible for, depends on state regulation, and internal facility policy.

For example, each state has mandatory regulations related to the number of patients each nurse is responsible for during the shift.

Nurses in California working in the neonatal care units are allowed to care for two babies at the time.

However, some facilities have internal staffing policies based on acuity systems.

NICU nurses classify patient acuity levels form one to four.

Therefore, in neonatal care units where there are newborns with severe illnesses, classified as a level three or four, a NICU nurse is responsible for only one patient.

Intubated babies or those in post-operative care sometimes require two nurses for proper care.

In units where are babies with less acute needs, so-called feeders, and growers, a nurse is responsible for two to three babies at a time.

Intensive care units require bedside care as well, so nurses should be familiar with state regulations and internal facility ration requirements.

A nurse is allowed to ask for help and report any unsafe assignments, to ensure that each baby receives proper attention and care.

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