Healthcare-acquired infection rates tied to nurse burnout, researchers say

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Healthcare providers looking to reduce facility-acquired infection rates might start by lightening their nurses' patient load, authors of a new report recommend.

In analyzing data from over 7,000 registered nurses, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing researchers observed that high patient loads and high nurse exhaustion rates were associated with an increase in catheter-associated urinary-tract and surgical-site infections among hospital patients.

Urinary-tract-infection rates increased by approximately one additional infection per 1,000 patients for each additional patient added to a nurse's workload, according to the study. Reducing CAUTIs also remains a top concern for nursing home staff.

Investigators examined self-reported responses on emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment to reach their conclusions. They identified emotional exhaustion as the key component to burnout syndrome.

“Healthcare facilities can improve nurse staffing 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,” study authors wrote.

Study results are published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the publication announced this week.