The impact of the care for COVID-19 patients on nursing workload and planning nursing staff on the Intensive Care Unit has been huge. Nurses were confronted with a high workload and an increase in the number of patients per nurse they had to take care of.
The primary aim of this study is to describe differences in the planning of nursing staff on the Intensive Care in the COVID period versus a recent non-COVID period. The secondary aim was to describe differences in nursing workload in COVID-19 patients, pneumonia patients and other patients on the Intensive Care. We finally wanted to assess the cause of possible differences in Nursing Activities Scores between the different groups.
We analyzed data on nursing staff and nursing workload as measured by the Nursing Activities Score of 3,994 patients and 36,827 different shifts in 6 different hospitals in the Netherlands. We compared data from the COVID-19 period, March 1st 2020 till July 1st 2020, with data in a non-COVID period, March 1st 2019 till July 1st 2019. We analyzed the Nursing Activities Score per patient, the number of patients per nurse and the Nursing Activities Score per nurse in the different cohorts and time periods. Differences were tested by a Chi-square, non-parametric Wilcoxon or Student’s t-test dependent on the distribution of the data.
Our results showed both a significant higher number of patients per nurse (1.1 versus 1.0, p<0.001) and a significant higher Nursing Activities Score per Intensive Care nurse (76.5 versus 50.0, p<0.001) in the COVID-19 period compared to the non-COVID period. The Nursing Activities Score was significantly higher in COVID-19 patients compared to both the pneumonia patients (55.2 versus 50.0, p<0.001) and the non-COVID patients (55.2 versus 42.6, p<0.001), mainly due to more intense hygienic procedures, mobilization and positioning, support and care for relatives and respiratory care.
With this study we showed the impact of COVID-19 patients on the planning of nursing care on the Intensive Care. The COVID-19 patients caused a high nursing workload, both in number of patients per nurse and in Nursing Activities Score per nurse.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.