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Nurse burnout increases infection rates

July 31, 2012
by pamela tabar
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Overburdedned staff and burnout both contribute to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), according to an announcement from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research conducted the study, which will appear in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers surveyed more than 7,000 registered nurses at 161 Pennsylvania hospitals to study the effect of nurse staffing and burnout on catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and surgical site infections (SSI).

The data showed a direct link between nurse caseloads and infection rates. For CAUTI rates specifically, each additional patient assigned to a nurse resulted in about one additional infection per 1,000 patients.

Nurses provided responses based on the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI), which measures levels of emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment and other job-related factors. In the study, almost one-third of respondents had an exhaustion score of at least 27, which the MBI considers burnout level.

Calculating the cost of treating CAUTIs and SSIs, the study estimated that the hospitals involved in the study could save a combined $41 million in infection-related revenue if nurse burnout rates could be lowered from its current 30 percent to 10 percent.

The study should attract the attention of long-term care facilities, whose staffs also are struggling with job stress, burnout and compassion fatigue.

 

Related story: HHS: Long-term care is the next step in national plan to combat infections

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