Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Nurse Burnout: Causing the Spread of Infection?

Nurse Burnout: Causing the Spread of Infection?

Each year, over 2 million patients are affected by a Hospital Acquired Infection in the United States. Over 100,000 patients die every year of complications from Hospital Acquired Infections like MRSA, E. coli, and C. difficile. A new study published by the American Journal of Infection Control has found that nurses may be a contributor to the spread of infection, especially when working long hours and caring for too many patients at a time.
When nurses are overworked, infection control can sometimes be ignored. Nurse-to-patient ratios and the increasing hours of nursing care per patient can actually contribute to an increased rate of infection in the hospital.

The American Journal of Infection Control observed the effect on nurse staffing and burnout on Hospital Acquired Infections like urinary tract infections and surgical site infections, but the implications can be similar for nosocomial infections like MRSA and E. coli. Increasing a nurses’ workload by only 1 patient was found to increase the likelihood of a patient contracting an infection.
This 1 extra patient requires extra time out of the nurse’s day to monitor, provide medication and other bedside care, on top of caring for other patients. Burned-out and overworked nurses can sometimes forget, or become too busy, to ensure proper hand washing throughout the day. When time is at a premium and nurses are caring for multiple patients, infection control may not be a top priority – especially when a patient is in distress.

The Cost of Understaffing
Hospital Acquired Infections cost over $5 billion each year. Since 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) no longer pays the cost to treat urinary tract infections or surgical site infections. As the CMS continues to reduce payments for preventable conditions, nosocomial infections from MRSA or E. coli bacteria could eventually be added to the list of Hospital Acquired Conditions that are no longer paid for by Medicare or Medicaid. Understaffing hospitals will become costly in the long run if the cost of treating Hospital Acquired Infections is no longer covered.

The best solution to improving infection control and reducing nurse workload is to increase staffing, but this solution is not always possible. Other solutions to reduce nurse burn-out and create a safer environment for infection control include:
1.       Implementing infection control programs for staff

With an increase in patient workload, the stress of caring for and monitoring patients on an on-going basis can overshadow basic infection control procedures like hand washing. Reminding nurses to pause during their busy day to observe infection control procedures through workshops or shift report reminders can have a lasting impact on patient safety and infection control protocol2.       Using technology to help reduce nurse workload
Fall-risk and wandering patients can put a strain on nurses. Using a bed-exit alarm can help reduce a nurse’s workload by alerting nurses to bed-exiting behaviour before a patient wanders or experiences an adverse event like a fall from bed. Hospitals should implement bed-exit alarms that reduce false alarms and alarm fatigue by resetting when a patient returns to bed, without the need for nurse intervention.
Similar technologies exist in many aspects of patient care and should be used when possible. Alleviating a nurse’s workload can increase the likelihood of following through on infection control procedures and creates a better atmosphere for nurse and patient safety.

3.       Using equipment that features anti-bacterial surfaces

Anti-bacterial surfaces can be a major component in reducing the spread of Hospital Acquired Infection. The hospital bed is a critical area to observe patient safety and infection control. Using anti-bacterial solutions within the hospital bed’s surface can eliminate most of the harmful bacteria that can cause infection. This line of defense against infection control can reduce the spread of MRSA and E. coli for a safer patient environment.
Hand washing is an important step in infection control, and special care needs to be taken to ensure nurses have the proper support to implement infection control measures. Creating a reduced workload and using tools that help address infection control, such as anti-bacterial surfaces, can make a considerable impact on patient safety and reduce your facility’s cost of treating Hospital Acquired Infections.

CHG Hospital Beds specializes in low hospital beds that are designed to prevent patient falls and related injuries within acute care environments. We are focused on patient and nurse safety and deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers.

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At 9 November 2012 at 22:04 , Blogger anay said...
Aw, this was a really great post. In theory I'd like to write like this also - taking time and real effort to make a good article... but what can I say... I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

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At 14 December 2012 at 21:05 , Blogger Mae Kristine Rana said...
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