Nurse burnout in acute care setting causing poor patient outcomes

Posted: November 26th, 2013

Nurse burnout in acute care setting causing poor patient outcomes

            In the recent past, there has been an increase in poor patient outcomes in the medical care system. Research done by the American Nursing Association shows that decline in the number of nurses working in hospitals is the main reason for the increase in poor patient outcome. The decline is caused by an ageing nursing workforce, resignation and movement by nurses from hospitals to other organizations. Inadequacy of nurses and the fall in nursing staff levels results to and nurse burnouts. Study shows that nurse burnout is responsible for job dissatisfaction, emotional exhaustion observed in the nursing staff and fall in the quality of healthcare in the country (Nurse burnout in a high stress health care environment: prognosis better than expected, 2009). There is need to resolve the issues responsible for the nurse burnout to preserve and uphold the safety of patients and facilitate the provision of quality medical care. This is because nurse burnout in acute care settings is causing poor patient outcomes.


The main question that we should ask ourselves is why there is a consistent decline in the number of nurses working in hospitals. What should be done to enhance the retention of nurses in hospitals? Consumers, hospital managements and health professionals all agree that all is not well in the healthcare system. This calls for the creation and implementation of structures that will resolve the issues that have led to the problems in the healthcare system. It will help bring back the trust that people had in hospitals and improve the levels of patient care.

Purpose statement

There is need to establish an approach that will help reduce the decline in the number of nurses in hospitals helping maintain proper nurse to patient ratios. This approach will help facilitate staff retention by limiting the movement of nursing staff from hospitals to other organizations. It aims to help ensure that nurses work in safe and conducive environments. The approach also aims to enhance the recognition of the role played by nurses in hospitals. This approach will ensure that nurses are motivated and enhance the provision of quality healthcare to patients.

Why is there a fall in the number of nurses working in hospitals? One of the main problems in the healthcare system is that nurses feel their working conditions in hospitals are not conducive. They therefore are unwilling to work in such conditions especially for inpatient settings. McLaughlin and Bulla state that this is one of the causes of the high rise in resignation levels from hospitals by nurses (Nurse burnout in a high stress health care environment: prognosis better than expected, 2009). To resolve this problem, there will have to be a change in the design and nature of clinical care service provision. There is need to undertake modifications in the management of the workforce in hospitals.

The study shows that the nursing system in hospitals is characterized by an ageing workforce. This minimizes the output and performance of nurses. Current trends show that most young nurses are now leaving their hospital jobs for other occupations that offer better pay and working conditions. To deal with this problem, this approach will ensure that hospitals initiate systems to enable them compete with other institutions in the retention of staff. The problems have also been caused by the recent restructuring and reengineering by hospitals aiming to emulate industrial forms of productivity enhancement methods. However, hospitals fail to realize that these methods fail to recognize the concerns of nurses. Study by the American Nurses Association shows that this changes hinder the retention of nurses and improvement of patient outcomes.

What can be done to enhance the motivation of the nursing staff? This approach aims to solve this problem by enhancing communication between the hospital management and nurses especially on issues involving the work environment and the distribution of resources. This problem will be resolved by ensuring that there are at least two nurses seating in hospital boards to promote the interests of the nurses motivating them. This approach calls for an alteration and revision in the rates and benefits offered to nurses by hospitals to ensure that nurses are enumerated like their counterpart in the corporate environment. To help in the retention of the workers, the approach also aims to provide opportunities for further studies by nurses, career advancement and facilitate flexibility in the work place.

What can be done to enhance the productivity of nurses? There is need to introduce new ideas in the healthcare system. However, new ideas do not essentially mean bringing totally new and untested ideas of hospital restructuring and reengineering. This is because the use of totally new and untested plans and approaches by hospital management has been found to be one of the causes of problems resulting to nursing staff inadequacies resulting to nurse burnout hence fall in healthcare quality. The approach aims to help hospitals maintain high quality nurses and enhance customer loyalty to hospitals.

This approach works in line with the recommendations of the report from the research by Linda Aiken, Sean Clarke and Douglas Sloane titled ‘Hospital Staffing, Organization, and Quality of Care: Cross-National Findings.’ The report states that reforms in the healthcare system should put up in such a way to facilitate change in the system, ensure there is effective care and it is sensible. This is by engaging the nurses in management affairs of hospitals, recognition and effective remuneration nurses for the vital roles they play in hospitals. Instead of working with managerial consultants from outside, the approach aims to make use of clinicians in the solution of problems in hospitals. An approach similar to this by the name the ‘Magnet Approach’ was tried by the three researchers in various hospitals. It led to the improvement of the patient outcome and improvement in the healthcare systems in the hospitals in which it was tried.

This paper will pursue a quantitative study that will help develop techniques whose implementation will help resolve the problems that result to nurse burnout enhancing patient outcome in hospitals.







Moore, T. F., & Simendinger, E. A. (2008). Managing the nursing shortage: a guide to recruitment and retention. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers.

Ditzel, L., & Liz University of Otago. Dept. of Management. (2005). Nurse burnout in a high stress health care environment: Prognosis better than expected? New Zealand: Dept. of Management, University of Otago.

McLaughlin, M. K. M., &. Bulla, A. S. (2009). Real stories of nursing research: the quest for Magnet recognition. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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