Scientific article

The effect of workload on infection risk in critically ill patients

Published inCritical care medicine, vol. 35, no. 1, p. 76-81
Publication date2007

OBJECTIVE: There is growing evidence that low nurse staffing jeopardizes quality of patient care. The objective of the study was to determine whether low staffing level increases the infection risk in critical care. DESIGN: Observational, single-center, prospective cohort study. SETTING: Medical intensive care unit of the University of Geneva Hospitals, Switzerland. PATIENTS: All patients admitted over a 4-yr period. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Study variables included all infections acquired in critical care, daily nurse-to-patient ratio, demographic characteristics, admission diagnosis and severity score, comorbidities, daily individual exposure to invasive devices, and selected drugs. Of a cohort of 1,883 patients totaling 10,637 patient-days, 415 (22%) developed at least one healthcare-associated infection while in critical care. Overall infection rate was 64.5 episodes per 1000 patient-days. Infected patients experienced higher mortality with a longer duration of stay both in critical care and in the hospital than noninfected patients (all p <.001). Median 24-hr nurse-to-patient ratio was 1.9. Controlling for exposure to central venous catheter, mechanical ventilation, urinary catheter, and antibiotics, we found that higher staffing level was associated with a >30% infection risk reduction (incidence rate ratio, 0.69; 95% confidence interval, 0.50-0.95). We estimated that 26.7% of all infections could be avoided if the nurse-to-patient ratio was maintained >2.2. CONCLUSIONS: Staffing is a key determinant of healthcare-associated infection in critically ill patients. Assuming causality, a substantial proportion of all infections could be avoided if nurse staffing were to be maintained at a higher level.

  • Aged
  • Catheterization/adverse effects
  • Comorbidity
  • Critical Care/manpower
  • Critical Illness/mortality/nursing
  • Cross Infection/epidemiology/etiology/prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infection Control/organization & administration
  • Intensive Care Units/ manpower
  • Intubation/adverse effects
  • Length of Stay/statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital/education/ supply & distribution
  • Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling/ organization & administration
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Switzerland/epidemiology
  • Workload/ statistics & numerical data
Citation (ISO format)
HUGONNET, Stéphane, CHEVROLET, Jean-Claude, PITTET, Didier. The effect of workload on infection risk in critically ill patients. In: Critical care medicine, 2007, vol. 35, n° 1, p. 76–81. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000251125.08629.3F
Main files (1)
ISSN of the journal0090-3493

Technical informations

Creation06/21/2010 10:24:49 AM
First validation06/21/2010 10:24:49 AM
Update time03/14/2023 3:44:09 PM
Status update03/14/2023 3:44:09 PM
Last indexation02/12/2024 6:32:03 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack