Private Rooms in Hospitals Are for Safety, Not Just Luxury

Time was when you had to pay a lot extra to get a private room in a hospital, and the single room was thought to be a luxury for patients. But now research has been accumulating that the private room can play a big role in safety: cutting the risk of infection, helping the patient sleep better at night, reducing the risk of medication mixups, and to boot, making for the kind of real privacy that the Orwellian-termed “semi-private” room does not allow.

In most new hospital construction in the United States, the patient rooms are single-bed, and many of them have other features that promote safety and comfort: like having plenty of room for a family member to stay in the room (so they can act as a patient advocate), and placing a sink near the door to encourage caregivers to wash hands and reduce infections. The American Institute of Architects has called for single rooms in new hospital design since 2006.

These and other features of safety-oriented hospital design are discussed by Carol Ann Campbell in an article in the New York Times.

Another important feature of safe design is placing nurses stations within line of sight for the patient rooms.

Patients who have a choice of hospitals should look to these kinds of issues when deciding what hospital offers the best prospects of safe, high-quality care.

The importance of having an advocate with you at all times in the hospital, how to look for a quality hospital and how to take steps to reduce risk of infections in the hospital are discussed by Patrick Malone in his new book, The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst.

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