Nurse staffing, burnout linked to hospital infections

July 30, 2012

Nurse burnout leads to higher healthcare-associated infection rates (HAIs) and costs hospitals millions of additional dollars annually, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Researchers from the Center for and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing analyzed data previously collected by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, the American Hospital Association Annual Survey, and a 2006 survey of more than 7,000 from 161 hospitals in Pennsylvania to study the effect of nurse staffing and burnout on catheter-associated (CAUTI) and surgical site infections (SSI), two of the most common HAIs.

Job-related burnout was determined by analyzing the emotional exhaustion subscale from the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Human Services Survey (MBI-HSS) that was obtained from nurse survey responses. The MBI-HSS filters 22 items on job-related attitudes into emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment, identifying emotional exhaustion as the key component to burnout syndrome. More than one-third of survey respondents got an score of 27 or greater, the MBI-HSS definition for healthcare personnel burnout.

Comparing CAUTI rates with nurses' patient loads (5.7 patients on average), the researchers found that for each additional patient assigned to a nurse, there was roughly one additional infection per 1,000 patients (or 1,351 additional infections per year, calculated across the survey population). Additionally, each 10 percent increase in a hospital's high-burnout nurses corresponded with nearly one additional CAUTI and two additional SSIs per 1,000 patients annually (average rate of CAUTIs across hospitals was 9 per 1,000 patients; for SSIs it was 5 per 1,000 patients).

Using the per-patient average costs associated with CAUTIs ($749 to $832 each) and SSIs ($11,087 to $29,443 each), the researchers estimate that if nurse burnout rates could be reduced to 10 percent from an average of 30 percent, Pennsylvania hospitals could prevent an estimated 4,160 infections annually with an associated savings of $41 million.

"Healthcare facilities can improve and other elements of the care environment and alleviate job-related burnout in nurses at a much lower cost than those associated with healthcare-associated infections," conclude the authors. "By reducing nurse , we can improve the well-being of nurses while improving the quality of patient care."

Explore further: International research finds quality and safety problems in hospitals throughout 13 countries

More information: "Nurse staffing, burnout and health care-associated infection" by Jeannie P. Cimiotti, Linda H. Aiken, Douglas M. Sloane and Evan S. Wu appears in the American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 40, Issue 6 (August 2012).

Related Stories

International research finds quality and safety problems in hospitals throughout 13 countries

March 20, 2012
In one of the largest studies of its kind, a consortium of investigators from 13 countries led the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in the U.S. and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium in Europe, found that ...

To keep nurses, improve their work environments

December 8, 2011
Nurses working in hospitals around the world are reporting they are burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs, reported researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy ...

California nurse staffing

July 15, 2011
In a comprehensive analysis comparing nurse staffing in California hospitals to similar hospitals in the U.S. over nearly a decade, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have found that controversial ...

The importance of the team composition in ICUs

August 23, 2011
A higher proportion of female nurses among intensive care teams may decrease individuals' risk of professional burnout, according to Swiss researchers who studied the factors related to burnout in the high-stress setting ...

High levels of burnout among UK family doctors, especially in group practice

January 30, 2012
Levels of burnout in UK general practice are high, suggests a study of general practitioners (GPs) in one area of South East England, published in BMJ Open.

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.