Impact of Nursing Burnout and Workload On Safety of Staff and Patients

Essay, 2019
9 Pages


Table of Content

1. Background

2. Significance
a. High Nurse Turnover rates
b. Medication Errors
c. Sick Leaves and Absenteeism
d. Communication Errors
e. Health Associated Infections

3. Objectives

4. Conclusion



Nurses play a pivotal role in the healthcare sector. Healthcare outcomes are highly dependent on the quality delivery of nursing services at the health facilities and also in primary care. Critical to healthcare is the issue of patient and staff safety. Healthcare is designed around safety. This is because there are standardized procedures that should always be adhered to by the nurses while delivering care. However, at times the nurses experience burnout and work overload that adversely affect the safety of the patients and staff at the health institutions (Needleman and Shekelle, 2019). Some of the causes of nursing burnout and high workload include inadequate nursing staff at the facility, high number of patients to nursing ratio, and lack of proper planning by the administration to allocate duties equitably. Nursing workload can be defined as the existing ration between the patients and nursing professionals at a given facility within a given timeframe. This paper would outline the significance of studying the topic nurse burnout and workload and its impact of patient and staff safety.

2. Significance

The health outcomes of the patients and their safety rely heavily on the nursing interventions at the care facilities. The objective of healthcare is to improve the quality of life of patients and their wellbeing. Similarly, healthcare facility staff members would want to operate in an environment that is safe for them. There are significant impacts to the safety and health outcomes of the patients and staff when nurses experience high workloads and burnout. Any health facility would want to offer high quality healthcare services to patients by improving their health outcomes (Magalhães et al., 2017). Notably, the burnout of the nurses’ greatly affects the objective of the medical facilities. The underperformance would likely affect their income, reputation and place them at a risk place of being sued for damages by both the staff members and patients.

a. High Nurse Turnover rates

Moreover, in a facility where nurses experience burnout and excess workload there would be a likely high employee turnover. Nurses are human beings who understand the important of safe practice in healthcare. Burnout and excess workload like working for many hours exposes the nurses to stress and psychological trauma. It is also a huge physical demand on their side to keep up with the stressors while delivering quality care at the hospitals and medical facilities (Hall et al., 2016). The factors surrounding workload and burnout can be interpreted by the nurses as mistreatment and lack of regard for their welfare by the hospital administration. As such, they may opt to resign and opt for new better ventures where their welfare is respected. High turnover rates would affect quality healthcare delivery as the facility would behave to train new nurses on their protocols and missions. This would affect patients who had formed attachment with some of the patients (Nantsupawat, et al., 2016).

b. Medication Errors

Consequently, nursing burnout and excess workload would likely cause medication errors. Medication errors cause untold suffering and death in many hospitals. Medication errors are a major concern to healthcare. These errors not only contribute to poor health outcomes but also cause healthcare facilities a lot of money to compensate. These adverse effects can easily result when nurses are overburdened beyond their capacity. Although the medication errors can be caused by any medical practitioner, the probability of a medication error to be caused by a nurse experiencing burnout is quite high. This makes the topic a very important factor because the safety of the patients and staff are concerned. It takes only a simple error cause the death of a patient (Cho et al., 2016; Fagerström et al., 2018).

c. Sick Leaves and Absenteeism

Consequently, nurses experiencing work overload and burnout would often take sick leave and register high levels of absenteeism. At times the physical efforts by the nurses while treating the patients can cause work related injuries. These injuries can include musculoskeletal injuries and fatigue that may likely influence the employees to be absent from work (Möller and Magalhãe, 2015). The trend of missing from work can cause adverse effects to healthcare service delivery at the facility. This is because; in most cases nurses are delegated to work on certain number of patients for a specified period of time. When one or two nurses experience burnout are absent from work unannounced they would cause strain the remaining nurses who would have to cover for their absent colleagues (Cho et al., 2016). While it may seem to be a common scenario, it would eventually continue the cycle of burnout and excess workload. The outcome would be increased health safety risks to both the staff and patients.

d. Communication Errors

The relationship between the nursing professionals and the patients is very critical towards improving their quality of life. Stressed and depressed nurses who are worn out cannot effectively communicate with patients. It is difficult for an effective communication to ensue when one party lacks the focus, concentration and time (Aprilia et al., 2019). A nurse experiencing excess workload would not spend much time with a patient to develop a meaningful health relationship. As such, the nurse may likely miss on crucial and critical cues that would help improve the health outcome of the patient. In such cases, the nurses would rather keep to themselves significant clues that are worth sharing with a medical professional. For instance, a patient may experience reaction from an administered medication (MacPhee et al., 2017). Without a nurse nearby, the client would likely experience adverse health outcomes. Also, other staff members could experience miscommunication in the process of handing over duties at the end of the day. The impact of miscommunication in healthcare can be devastating and should be avoided as a priority. Thus, burnout and excess work load for the nurses affect their relationship with the patients.

e. Health Associated Infections

This topic is also important because lack of adequate safety compliance due to nurse burnout and excess workload could lead to health-care associated infections. Despite the availability of the personal protective equipment for nurses and other medical professionals, compliance to some of the regulations can be compromised. For instance, simple procedures like washing of hands, not using enough protective equipment for patients with multi-resistant pathogens can easily lead to spread of infections. Also, burn out can prompt a nurse to recap a needle after use unknowingly and hence cause safety risk to themselves (Jansson et al., 2019). As such, stressed nurses can affect the safety of other staff members in the facility by exposing them to pathogens due to non-compliance to the safety regulations.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Impact of Nursing Burnout and Workload On Safety of Staff and Patients
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ISBN (eBook)
impact, nursing, burnout, workload, safety, staff, patients
Quote paper
Clinton Kimwei (Author), 2019, Impact of Nursing Burnout and Workload On Safety of Staff and Patients, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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