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Private ICU Rooms Slash HAI Rates by Half

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 12, 2011

Hospitals with multi-bed intensive care units are well advised to convert to single bed private rooms with their own sinks, according to authors of a study that found such a transition resulted in a 54% decline in rates for three types of hospital-acquired bacterial infections.

"Conversion to single rooms can substantially reduce the rate at which patients acquire infectious organisms while in the ICU," wrote Dana Teltsch and colleagues at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal.

The researchers found declines in combined rates of Clostridium difficile, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

That's statistically significant, because 30% of ICU patients are diagnosed with a health-care associated infection, which is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, increased lengths of stay of eight or nine days, and $3.5 billion per year in estimated additional health care costs in the U.S., the authors wrote.

The article was published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

While hospital architectural recommendations call for new facilities to include single patient ICUs, some older hospitals have not made the switch. Also, results from studies on the topic have produced mixed results, with only three of eight studies showing reduced rates of ICU infections after a facility changed its ICU design.

The researchers set out to compare rates of risk-adjusted hospital-acquired infections at two McGill Hospitals. The comparison hospital used is McGill's Royal Victoria Hospital, which has s 25-bed adult ICU divided into rooms with two, five or six beds and eight single-bed rooms.

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