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Nurse Burnout Can Increase Likelihood of Patient Infection

March 29, 2018 in

nurse burnoutA  study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania has confirmed a relatively obvious assumption about healthcare: fewer caregivers provide inferior care. While this conclusion is likely no surprise, the reasons for the decline in care are not necessarily as obvious as one might think. For example, the study concluded that the drop in healthcare quality may have more to do with a poor work environment – which leads to burnout – and less to do with the actual number of healthcare employees.

Serious medical injuries can occur when medical staff fails to provide quality care to their patients. For this reason, some states are considering mandated nurse-to-patient ratios – which one state has already implemented. It is believed that controls on medical staffing can help with employee burnout.

According to the study – which used data on hospital infection rates – by simply reducing nurse burnout from 30 percent to 10 percent, thousands of hospital-acquired infections could be prevented and millions of dollars saved.

The Penn study reviewed 2006 infection data collected from 161 hospitals and cross-referenced this data with two survey results. The surveys contained information about nurse-burnout rates – based on over 7,000 individually answered questionnaires – and staffing levels that hospitals provide to their national association.

On average, the study discovered that each nurse cared for 5.7 patients. However, the study found that when they added only one patient to a nurse’s workload, it corresponded with one more urinary tract infection per 1,000 patients – a similar rate increase was discovered with surgical site infections.

When the study took burnout into consideration, they saw that a 10 percent rise in a hospital’s level of burned-out nurses increased urinary tract infections by a similar amount. However, surgical site infections increased by more than 50 percent with the same increase in nurse burnout.

In anything, this study merely illustrates how easily patient care can rapidly deteriorate, even with just minor changes in care levels.

Our hospital negligence attorneys can help if you have suffered from an infection caused by a hospital or due to nursing negligence.