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Nurse Burn Out Essay

2603 words - 11 pages

Nurse Burnout and Its Impact on Patient Safety
Georgetown University
Foundations of Health Systems and Policy
September 12, 2013

Nurse Burnout and Its Impact on Patient Safety
Patient safety encompasses the application of best practices that are geared towards achieving positive outcomes and promoting safety, and can serve as an indicator of quality in healthcare institutions; sustainable nursing workloads improve the quality of health care by reducing unsafe conditions, as well as reducing mortality and morbidity. Several literature reviews have clearly identified the consequences for patients when nurses are overtaxed or over utilized to bridge the gap of nursing ...view middle of the document...

Understaffing and shortages of nurses, in addition to the daily demands on nurses produces higher levels of stress leading to nursing burnout, job dissatisfaction, and consequently hindering a therapeutic relationship between nurses and their respective patients (Nantsupawart, 2011). The trend in nursing shortage has reached crisis proportions, with its demand outstripping its supply. It has been hypothesized that the nursing shortage will increase in the coming years, regardless of the current downturn in the United States economy that has resulted in an easing of the nursing shortage in the short term, the shortage is still projected to grow to more than 260,000 by 2025. The ongoing shortage has been directly linked to high turnover among nurses due to burnout (Buerhaus, 2009).
A report by the Institute of Medicine released its key report on errors in the health care system, stating that more than 98,000 people in the U.S. may die each year from errors in health care, thus making this the fifth leading cause of death (Kohn C, 1999). These errors have been associated with nursing shortages, fatigue, burnout, and the current crises in healthcare spending that have resulted in the hospitals employment of various means of reducing costs, including limiting length of stay, restricting formularies, and gradually increasing patient-nurse (PTN) ratios, potentially undermining patients’ safety (Stewart R. 2003).
In 2001, 75% of American nurses survey warned that increasing patient loads during the previous two years had adverse effect on the quality of care, and in Massachusetts, 29% of nurses surveyed knew of a patient’s death that was linked directly to understaffing (Stewart R. 2003). According to the joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), 24% of 1609sentinell events were related to staffing levels.
Stress and burnout among nurses have been found to be higher than in other healthcare professionals. Many studies have indicated that the prevalence of burnout is higher among nurses that work in certain stressful settings, such as oncology, mental health, and critical care (Barrett L, 2002). Factors such as extended shifts and overtime, increased workload brought on by inadequate staffing, increased levels of patient acuity, working rotating shifts, weekend work, on call requirements amidst other demands and environmental constraints have been identified as precursors to nurse fatigue and burnout.
Job burnout is a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, and the tendency of evaluating oneself negatively (Hayes, 2010). Burnout poses safety concerns and induces unsafe working conditions, and has potential impact on nurses’ health, patients’ safety, productivity, and has been linked to suboptimal medical care and patients’ satisfaction (Vahey, 2004). Maslachs theory posits that emotional exhaustion as a key component of burnout, and further establishes associations between emotional and cognitive detachment...

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