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Nurse Burnout Linked to Health Care-Associated Infections

Last Updated: August 03, 2012.

Nurse burnout correlates with increased health care-associated infection rates of the urinary tract and surgical sites, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

FRIDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Nurse burnout correlates with increased health care-associated infection rates of the urinary tract and surgical sites, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Using nurse survey data linked to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council report on hospital infections and the American Hospital Association Annual Survey, Jeannie P. Cimiotti, D.N.Sc., R.N., from The State University of New Jersey in Newark, and colleagues examined the correlation between nurse staffing and the spread of infections within hospitals.

The researchers found that the patient-to-nurse ratio correlated significantly with urinary tract infection (staffing coefficient, 0.86; P = 0.02) and surgical site infection (staffing coefficient, 0.93; P = 0.04). In a multivariate model, nurse burnout remained significantly associated with urinary tract infection (staffing coefficient, 0.82; P = 0.03) and surgical site infection (staffing coefficient, 1.56; P < 0.01) when controlling for patient severity and nurse and hospital characteristics. A 30 percent reduction in hospital burnout was associated with 6,239 fewer total infections, with an annual cost savings of up to $68 million.

"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," the authors conclude.

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