Study: Single rooms should become standard for new hospitals

Have you noticed, lately, that when hospitals and health systems announce a new facility, it usually comes with private rooms? That's not a coincidence. Increasingly, hospital planners are reaching a consensus that the benefits to single-patient rooms far outweigh the costs, argue the authors of a new paper appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The authors note that studies have shown single rooms to reduce infections, particularly important in the age of MRSA and other "superbugs," and that they may also cut medication errors. Also, with single rooms, physicians can talk with patients privately, and families can be there. What's more, since they're quieter, single rooms help lower patient blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rates, as well as improving the quality of sleep and helping with pain management.

While the authors admit that single-room hospitals increase construction costs, with added expenses of $182 to $400 per patient for a new single-room ward versus $122 to $500 for a ward with double rooms, many of these expenses are capital costs that will be recouped comparatively quickly, researchers suggest.

To learn more about this study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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