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Hospital Infections Linked to Burned Out Nurses

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 2, 2012

But that wasn't the strongest link to infection rates when patients' co-morbidities and hospital characteristics were risk adjusted. Levels of burnout, however, were.

Cimiotti was asked if the survey were administered today, in an era where infection prevention bundles, checklists, hand washing compliance and environmental services are much higher on the hospital pecking order, whether the results would be different.

She replied "I don't think so, especially when it comes to catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

When caregivers get burned out, "they emotionally and cognitively detach. They're going through the motions but they're not really there. Maybe during a busy schedule she looks at a patient and says "cleaning out that urinary catheter is not a priority today. I have other things to worry about, and other patients."

"I hypothesize that in hospitals that still have a high proportion of nurses with job-related burnout, their infection rates would be higher than in hospitals where nurses do not report high levels of burnout. Although rates might be different, we'll see the same type of things."

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2 comments on "Hospital Infections Linked to Burned Out Nurses"


Karen Jensen RN,BSN,CCM (8/6/2012 at 8:33 AM)
I agree with Fran. There are many time demands on nurse's and the hospital administrators and nursing supervisors or "house supervisors" who are in charge of assigning staff ratio's need to consider that when a nurse is on the floor and she is having too many patient's assigned at once and doctor's calling and patient's needing to go off the floor for procedures and discharges all at once, it is rush rush rush to wash hands and be diligent when the nurse always has a sense of urgency. So, they may not have time to SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY while they wash their hands. The way to allow nurse's time to use proper sanitizer's and SING A FULL HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONG and it is recommended twice in the lab setting when training on how to wash hands, but some peopele recommend a full happy birthday song. That just isn't reasonable with all of the time demands so administrator's and nursing supervisor's need to realize that by having more available nurse's may cost a few extra dollars that month the savings as the article points out that 68 million dollars a year is possible to save. So people in admin deciding on nurse to patient ratio need to keep that in mind when staffing. Go back to hiring a float nurse from another floor or agency staff if you don't have enough nurse's to care for you census. Sometimes other floors are not as busy as others and a smart house supervisor will go to a nurse who doesn't have a busy floor and ask if she can spare a nurse on another floor. It is a help just to do basic things if you are not a regular on that floor. That will give nurse's a free hand which translates to more time to wash their hands properly therby preventing infections.

Fran Dillon RN (8/2/2012 at 2:03 PM)
Could it also be that the reason the nurses are burnt out is that they don't have time to contribute to infection control issues?