A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania supports what thousands of nurses have known since day one – that inadequate staffing leads to nurse burnout which leads to lower patient outcomes.
But short staffing is only part of the picture, the study finds, siting lack of teamwork, lack of support from the top, and an inability to act independently as all contributing to a nurse’s stress buildup and potential burnout.
Among the first to measure the potential harm of nurse burnout – both in terms of patient injuries and hospital costs, this study uses detailed infection data available only in Pennsylvania, where reporting is mandatory. It finds that if hospitals could reduce their proportion of burned-out nurses to 10 percent from the typical 30 percent, they could prevent 4,160 cases a year of the two most-common hospital-acquired infections statewide – urinary tract and surgical site – and save $41 million. Insurers are increasingly unwilling to reimburse hospitals for the treatment of preventable infections.
Read more about the study in this Philadelphia Inquirer article and take note of our own Cathy Stoddart of the Nurse Alliance, RN at Allegheny General Hospital, renowned for its innovative, collaborative approach to achieving safer staffing rations.