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Nursing burnout causes significant increases in hospital errors

While doctors do a lot for the people of Syracuse, nurses are often working hard to keep patients healthy. Nurses definitely care about their patients' health and safety, but with the increasing pressures put on nurses and their overworked schedules, it is extremely easy for nurses to become burned out and provide substandard care.

A recent study has shown that reducing the percentage of burned-out nurses from 30 to 10 percent of a hospital nursing staff will reduce the number of the two most commonly found hospital infection by 4,160cases. With some hospital infections turning fatal, this could mean significantly fewer patients being seriously injured or killed by an inattentive, burned-out nurse.

It's not that nurses are intentionally injuring their patients, it is that the hospital administration is making them so stressed by increasing their caseloads dramatically that they may miss little things like washing their hands or noticing minute details that indicate a patient has an infection. Though they are trained to notice when a patient's temperature changes or they are producing less urine, both signs that a patient is getting sicker, it is difficult to do that when nurses are responsible for so many patients.

Many nurses and individuals within the nursing industry are asking for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, ensuring that individual nurses will not be overwhelmed by the number of patients they need to care for in a shift. This could potentially reduce the number of burned-out nurses in the hospital and reduce the risk of serious injury or death to patients.

Source: Philadelphia Post Inquirer, "Penn study examines link between nurse burnout, care," Don Sapatkin, July 30, 2012

For more information about hospital errors, please visit our New York medical malpractice page.

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