Building the Basics: Ratios

Ratios are numbers that are being used to compare parts of groups to each other or a part to the whole. Ratios can be tricky because the term is not used often, although you probably use ratios more than you realise.

Ratios are used in nursing and healthcare in terms of the nurse to patient ratio, which is a common topic of discussion in the literature because of poor staffing levels in some healthcare facilities. The ratio of RNs to ENs to Care Assistants on the roster is another consideration. Some drugs are expressed as a weight to volume ratio (such as the emergency drugs adrenaline and noradrenaline). These could be expressed as 1:1,000 or 1:10,000.


Ratios are written with a number then a colon then another number (1:4) - don't confuse them with time notations (1:40pm). The ratio 1:4 is read as 'one to four'. It is important to clarify what the ratio is describing, part to part or part to whole. There is more information in the Ratio Lesson PDF, downloadable from the link below.