Patients at risk of infection from overworked nurses

 Patients are more prone to contracting hospital infections if the nurses are overburdened and exhausted, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania compared the number of hospital-acquired infections with the ratio of patients to nurses, the Daily Mail reported.

Post analysis of more than 7,000 nurses from 161 hospitals in Pennsylvania, the team found that each nurse cared for an average 5.7 patients and with each additional patient assigned to a nurse, there was roughly one additional infection per 1,000 patients.

The researchers also looked at the affects of emotional and physical exhaustion of the nurses using another survey that looked at the levels of exhaustion among staff.
More than a third of nurses received a score that meant they were facing burnout.
For each 10 per cent increase in nurses facing exhaustion there was one extra catheter-related infection and two extra surgical site infections per 1000 patients each year, the study revealed.

The researchers estimated that if nurse burnout rates could be reduced to 10 per cent from an average of 30 per cent, Pennsylvania hospitals could prevent an estimated 4,160 infections annually with an associated savings of USD 41 million or USD 26 million.
“By reducing nurse burnout, we can improve the well-being of nurses while improving the quality of patient care,” the authors were quoted as saying.

Typically, one registered nurse is expected to look after nine elderly patients who may be frail, acutely ill and have complex medical needs.

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