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

Teens are growing up more slowly today than they did in past decades

September 19, 2017
Many people believe that teenagers today grow up faster than they used to, while others argue that today's youth are growing up more slowly, perhaps due to overprotection by their parents. A new study explored this issue ...

Video game boosts sex health IQ and attitudes in minority teens

September 18, 2017
A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value ...

Two Americas: Seniors are getting healthier but most gains go to high-income whites

September 18, 2017
Older Americans report feeling dramatically healthier than they did 14 years ago but that good health isn't evenly distributed, with much of the gain going to the wealthiest, most highly educated and whites.

Budget cigarettes linked to higher infant mortality rates in EU countries

September 18, 2017
Scientists already know that high cigarette prices reduce smoking rates, and that levels of smoking affect infant mortality. However until now, there have been no studies to explore the link between cigarette price differentials ...

Immune system linked to alcohol drinking behaviour

September 15, 2017
Researchers from the University of Adelaide have found a new link between the brain's immune system and the desire to drink alcohol in the evening.

A fifth of global deaths linked to diet: study

September 15, 2017
Fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday and although humans are living longer than ever before, one in five deaths last year were linked to poor diet, researchers said Friday.

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.