By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cutting nursing positions leads, indirectly, to higher hospital infection rates. That’s the conclusion of a study published in August’s issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

KYW’s Pat Loeb reports the study connects overworked nurses with slip-ups in care.

The study looked at Pennsylvania hospitals because the state requires detailed reporting about infections.

Author Linda Aiken of Penn’s nursing school says the researchers found the key factor in the wide variations in infection rates from hospital to hospital was nurse burn-out.

“The single most important thing hospitals could do is focus on improving their work environment so that nurses would be more supported,” explained Aiken.

Aiken said that means better management, adequate resources, and a lower patient to nurse ratio.

“It costs hospitals money not to spend enough money on nurse staffing,” said Aiken.

The study was greeted coolly by the Delaware Valley Health Council which represents hospitals.

Executive Curt Shroeder says the data is dated and inconclusive.

“While it’s certainly possible that nurses are overworked in certain situations, I think it’s best for hospitals to deal with that on an individual basis,” said Shroeder.

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