Flexible nurse staffing based on hourly bed census predictions

Nikky Kortbeek, Aleida Braaksma, C.A.J. Burger, P.J.M Bakker, Richardus J. Boucherie

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Workload on nursing wards depends highly on patient arrivals and patient lengths of stay, which are both inherently variable. Predicting this workload and staffing nurses accordingly is essential for guaranteeing quality of care in a cost effective manner. This paper introduces a stochastic method that uses hourly census predictions to derive efficient nurse staffing policies. The generic analytic approach minimizes staffing levels while satisfying so-called nurse-to-patient ratios. In particular, we explore the potential of flexible staffing policies which allow hospitals to dynamically respond to their fluctuating patient population by employing float nurses. The method is applied to a case study of the surgical inpatient clinic of the Academic Medical Center (AMC) Amsterdam. This case study demonstrates the method's potential to study the complex interaction between staffing requirements and several interrelated planning issues such as case mix, care unit partitioning and size, and surgical block planning. Inspired by the numerical results, the AMC decided that this flexible nurse staffing methodology will be incorporated in the redesign of the inpatient care operations during the upcoming years.
Original languageUndefined
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Department of Applied Mathematics
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

Publication series

PublisherDepartment of Applied Mathematics, University of Twente
ISSN (Print)1874-4850
ISSN (Electronic)1874-4850


  • Probability
  • Inpatient care
  • Nurse-to-patient ratio
  • EWI-22408
  • IR-84366
  • Workforce planning
  • METIS-289747
  • Float nurse

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