Uganda, just like other least developed African countries, faces a critical shortage of health workers required to achieve the UN Health‐related Sustainable Development Goals (WHO 2015a). Uganda has a nurse to patient ratio of 1 per 11,000 against the World Health Organization recommended ratio of 2.5 per 1,000.
On average, a nurse has 40 patients under their care every day. The nurse is required to take vitals of these patients, administer treatment periodically; 6 hourly, 8 hourly, 12-hourly, etc. The same nurse is required to perform basic nursing care such as bed making, 2 hourly turning of very sick patients, bed baths among other tasks. At the end of the day, nurses are burnt out. They do not complete all the tasks they are supposed to in time. As a result, a number of patients deteriorate or even die.
The patient-to-nurse ratio is not only affecting patients but also nurses who are at risk of emotional exhaustion, stress, increased risk of error, there by compromising patient safety, increased occupational injury, increase in nurse turn over, thereby leading to greater costs for the employer and the health care system.