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Hospital Infections Linked to Burned Out Nurses

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 2, 2012

What's needed, Cimiotti says, are "organizational climate" changes in hospitals that prevent nurse burnout.

"We have to foster a climate where there is a good inter-professional relationship between nurses and nurses and between nurses and doctors. We need an organizational climate where nurses are well respected within in the facility that they have a voice in the organization and are autonomous and are allowed to practice to full extent.

Fellow author Linda Aiken of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, says that "Nurses are responsible for everybody else's infection control as well as their own. They have to remind everyone in the clinical area, families and doctors," who come near the patient. "And if they're burned out, it erodes their vigilance and capacity to provide surveillance on everybody else."

In conclusion, the authors wrote, "Healthcare-associated infections are associated with morbidity, mortality, and enormous costs to healthcare facilities, and insurance providers nationwide are denying payment for costs associated with these infections.

"Based on our finding that the staffing-infection relationship is mediated by job-related burnout, practitioners should work to implement organizational changes known to build job engagement, such as educational interventions, performance feedback, and social support, as strategies to reduce nurse burnout and thereby help control infections in acute care facilities."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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?