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Single-Patient Rooms Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections and Costs

Journal of Critical Care study says ROI is well worth the operational expenses

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are serious problems for both patients and hospitals because they can prolong stays for patients and cost more for hospitals. A study finds that single-patient rooms can reduce the risk of HAIs and care costs.

Hospitals seeking to reduce the risk of infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus should look to room design, according to a FiereceHealthcare report on a study published in the Journal of Critical Care. A single-patient intensive care unit (ICU) room reduces the risks of HAIs and cuts care costs enough to more than cover the construction expense.

Researchers led by Hessam Sadatsafavi, PhD, of Cornell University analyzed costs associated with single rooms or conversion of multipatient rooms to private ones, factoring in both initial construction costs and long-term maintenance expenses, and then calculated the internal rate of return. The researchers found private-room construction had a 56.18% rate of return, considerably more than the rates health care organizations require before a project is considered feasible.

The investment makes even more sense when compared with the cost of treating HAIs as well as the associated financial penalties, Sadatsafavi said. "You have to spend additional money to treat the patients that acquired infection, as it would increase their hospital stay, and to contain the sickness — powerful cleaning supplies, support services," he said. "Single-patient ICU rooms reduce the cross-transmission rate and avoid extra medical costs to contain infection, and our research showed that these savings offsets capital costs."

Sadatsafavi and his team used a research model that accounted for potential HAIs and ICU occupancy rates and compared them to the investment risk of new construction and operating expenses.

This is not the first research suggesting hospital design can factor into clinical outcomes; a Montreal hospital similarly reduced HAIs through the use of single-patient rooms, cutting HAIs by more than half and slashing ICU lengths of stay 10%, FierceHealthcare previously reported. 

Source: FierceHealthcare, November 4, 2015.

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