As recently mentioned in this blog, ensuring that healthcare workers' stress levels stay at a reasonable level is important. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, inadequate staffing is not only harmful to overworked nurses, but patients will likely suffer as well.

The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control, said that if the level of burned out nurses could be lowered from 30 percent to 10 percent, then it would prevent 4,160 cases a year of the two most-common hospital-acquired infections in Pennsylvania and save $41 million.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the study examined infection data from 2006 that 161 acute-care hospitals reported to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. This was then combined with two different surveys - one on staffing information and the other was based on burnout levels from questionnaire responses of 7,076 registered nurses.

Each nurse cared for an average of 5.7 patients, and every consumer added to the workload was associated with an increase of nearly one infection per 1,000 patients. 

Michael Leiter, an organizational psychologist, said that the findings could not clearly prove cause and effect, but were nonetheless disturbing. Leiter told the news source that burnout builds through a cycle of exhaustion, cynicism and lack of civility.

With the list of complex medical conditions not growing any shorter and diverse technological  innovations increasing in the medical sector, nurse burnout is bound to increase. Specifically, the implementation of electronic medical records, along with impending meaningful use requirements, are two factors that can add to that possibility.

By instituting a computer skills test along with pre-employment testing, company managers and leaders can rest assured that job candidates will be able to adequately handle the rapidly evolving aspects of the healthcare industry.

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