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To put this statistic into perspective, nearly 4 out of 10 nurses will drive to work dreading their shift. Nearly 4 out of 10 nurses will experience an extreme lack of empathy while taking care of their patients. Nearly 4 out of 10 nurses will be dissatisfied with a profession that once brought them joy and purpose. These statistics on nurse burnout only scratch the surface.
Obviously this is part of the job in the nursing field. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take its toll and at times, become overwhelming. Taking care of sick patients day-in and day-out can eventually add up and cause burnout among nurses of all specialties.
As hospitals across the country experience staff shortages, nurses are expected to pick up more hours and even work overtime to solve the issue. Staff shortages leads to an increased patient-to-nurse ratio and evokes a whole host of negative implications.
In a study where data was collected from 10,184 surgical nurses from 210 hospitals across Pennsylvania, it was found that with each additional patient in a nurse-to-patient ratio, there was a 7% increase in the likelihood of dying within 30 days of admission. There was also a 7% increase in the odds of failure-to-rescue. 5
As nurses work with a higher patient-to-nurse ratio, the chances of patients getting infections, injured, delayed care, or sent home without adequate at-home care instructions also increases. This increases their chances of needing to stay in the hospital longer and return with complications. When nurses have fewer patients, they are more likely to intercept and prevent errors. In turn, all of these variables add up and are one of the main contributors to nurse burnout and staff shortages.
Turnover is extremely costly for the organization. Institutions spend millions of dollars every year in recruitment, training, and retention of employees. 6 As more healthcare employees experience distress and burnout, the costs continue to rise.
Nurse burnout could have a detrimental impact on the entire workforce at a hospital. As burnout has a negative impact on personal habits and characteristics, it could harm relationships with team members. Consequently, nurse burnout could lead to strained relationships in the workplace and an uncomfortable working environment.