CNA Burnout Spikes Infection Rates


Article Categories: Diseases & Environment

Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant is both physically demanding and emotionally exhausting. All that running, lifting, and turning leads to muscle aches and back and joint pain at the end of every shift. CNAs also face emotional challenges as they tackle bullying and aggression in the workplace, from both colleagues and patients alike. Distress, disability, and death are all possible scenarios. High-paced work and demands for perfection rule the workplace.



Feeling over-fatigued, stressed, always under pressure, and unable to cope over time make the perfect recipe for burnout. In healthcare, when workers feel burned-out, patient care suffers. And what stronger evidence of poor patient care is there than high infection rates? Studies see a link between burnout and increasing infection rates, so let us try to dig deeper to understand this correlation.

How can exhaustion lead to the spread of infections?

1. NURSING ASSISTANTS LOSE CONTROL.

When nursing assistants are unable to cope with all the stresses at work, they start to lose control of their time and responsibilities. They feel that they have too many responsibilities on their plates without any hope of help from anyone, so they skip handwashing to save time when providing care to patients. Or, they forego the use of personal protective equipment because doing so is seen as a waste of time.

2. CNAS ARE MENTALLY DETACHED FROM THE CARE ENVIRONMENT.

Burned-out CNAs are preoccupied with everything except patient care. They daydream about the rest and recreation waiting for them on their day off. They think about getting even with their bully coworker or they get absorbed in self-pity. Being absent-minded at work makes them unable to focus closely enough to observe safety protocols to prevent infections. This results in CNAs going from patient to patient without remembering to perform infection control and even handling infectious materials without first putting on protective equipment.

3. NURSING ASSISTANTS GO TO WORK AND PERFORM TASKS WITHOUT SHOWING REAL CARE.

When burned-out nursing assistants lack motivation and have to drag themselves to work, they perform poorly and do only the minimum of what's required. When the care and empathy in patient care are missing, CNAs tend to forego precautions to prevent infections because are not committed to achieving the best patient safety outcomes.

Infections can spread easily and claim lives quickly. An increase in infection rates reflect poor patient outcomes, and when burnout causes nursing assistants to break safety protocols, there must be effective strategies to address this problem at its roots.

CNAs must be aware of the stresses they will have at work. If it becomes too overwhelming for them to cope, they should take a much-needed break to regain their strength and motivation. It may be helpful to speak with the supervisor, who can help manage workloads and shifts. Also, they must not hesitate to seek professional help.

Even when work becomes stressful, nursing assistants must still be vigilant in maintaining safety practices to prevent the spread of infections. When safety protocols are not strictly followed, CNAs not only endanger patient lives, but they also risk becoming sick themselves and bringing home infectious diseases to their families.

Try reviewing the course material on universal precautions class from our course library.

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