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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Want to reduce infections? Help your nurses

How often do you find an idea that could benefit your staff, your patients, and your facility? Read on.

No one questions that nurses have stressful jobs. As the author of a recent study points out, they deal with often-demanding patients constantly. Patients can die, sometimes unexpectedly. The result? Often, it’s burnout. Need evidence? The recent study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, included a survey of nurses in Pennsylvania. More than one-third said they had high levels of emotional exhaustion.

The evidence shows the damage goes beyond nurses’ emotions. The study indicated there is a tie between nurse burnout and two kinds of infections: CAUTI and SSI. These infections went up when a nurse’s workload jumped by just one patient. If nurse burnout can be reduced by cutting nurse workloads, infection rates could go down. If infection rates go down, money could be saved: probably $41 million in Pennsylvania, the authors estimate. And that’s just one state. Imagine if this idea took off across the country.

“Reducing burnout rates of nurses is a win-win,” says one of the authors. “By reducing nurse workload we can protect our nurses from burnout, and we may be protecting patients from infections.” Add another benefit: maybe save some money. That would be a win-win-win. Call it a tactical trifecta. And it today’s economy, who couldn’t use one of those?