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Don't Underestimate Damage Caused by Burned Out Nurses

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   August 07, 2012

Could urinary tract infections in hospitalized patients be caused in, in part, by exhausted, frazzled, emotionally drained nurses?

Yes, says a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. It shows that nurse burnout is linked to higher healthcare-associated infection rates (HAIs), and as a result, higher costs.

Reading the new findings about how nurses can negatively influence infection rates reminded me of another study with very different results. Those findings, presented earlier this year at the American Nurses Association's Nursing Quality Conference, showed that when nurses had certain specialty certifications, infection rates went down.

Comparing the results of these two studies should send up a red flag for nurse leaders. One study shows what happens to patient care when nurses are nurtured, encouraged, trained, and given the resources to succeed.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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