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Could improving nursing resources reduce hospital-acquired infections?

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Jeannie P. Cimiotti

Researchers at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing have received a three-year, $1.2 million R01 grant to study if nursing resources have an impact on hospital-acquired infections.

The award is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and is called Nursing Resources and Health Care-Associated Infections: Measures of Hospital Performance. As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AHRQ’s mission is to produce understandable evidence making healthcare safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable.

The study, led by principal investigator, Associate Professor Jeannie P. Cimiotti, PhD, RN, FAAN, centers on preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in acute care hospitals. Due to the lack of focus on improving hospital-wide nurse work environments as recommended by the National Academy of Medicine, HAIs remain common, risking patient lives, adding to health care costs, and contributing to the major public health problem of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The primary aim of the study is to determine whether nursing resources such as work environments and other modifiable features of nursing including nurse staffing, skill mix, workforce stability, and education are associated with HAIs.

“We have a goal of identifying promising hospital level strategies to facilitate infection reduction and identifying actionable recommendations with promise for reducing HAIs,” says Cimiotti. “This grant will allow us the opportunity to potentially save lives from entirely preventable infections.” 

Cimiotti has served as a member of AHRQ’s Safety Program for ICUs. As an internationally known health services researcher, her expertise addresses nurse workforce issues and the quality of patient care. Through her research she has examined a variety of provider outcomes such as job dissatisfaction and burnout, along with patient outcomes such as hospital-acquired infections and infection related issues.

School of Nursing faculty collaborating with Cimiotti on the study include co-investigators Yin Li, PhD, and Vicki Hertzberg, PhD, FASA. Additional collaborators include Edmund Becker, PhD (Rollins School of Public Health), Scott Fridkin, MD (School of Medicine and School of Public Health), and Lisa Elon MS, MPH (School of Public Health).

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