penn study examines link between nurse burnout, care
july 30, 2012
for years, as hospitals cut costs to survive ever-increasing financial pressures, nurses argued that inadequate staffing harms patients.
california's controversial and, so far, unique response was to mandate minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, which, if applied locally, would prevent 222 surgical deaths annually in new jersey and 264 in pennsylvania, researchers here calculated in 2010.
now members of that same university of pennsylvania team say they have figured out a key reason for that. though it might seem clear-cut - fewer caregivers provide poorer care - they maintain the issue is not simply numbers but a bad work environment.
and that leads to burnout.
staffing, of course, is a big part. when there also is a lack of teamwork and support from the top, and an inability to act independently, "stress builds up and builds up and builds up until the giver of care just detaches," said lead author jeannie p. cimiotti, and "all of a sudden they are doing work, but they are not even cognizant of what they are doing, they are so stressed." they may forget to wash their hands. ...