Single room, anyone?


19th December 2016


There has been lots of debate over many years about the extent to which hospitals should provide single rooms for patients. Should every patient have a single room for the sake of privacy? Would this help to reduce HCAI? And would it be safe even if it did? A recent review suggests that more single rooms equals less HCAI. The systematic review found that hospital wards with more single rooms had lower rates of HCAI. This makes sense: physical segregation of patients with infectious agents is an ancient approach to preventing transmission. However, whilst the evidence that single rooms reduces HCAI is compelling, there are other reasons why a mixture of single rooms and bays may be a better approach. Some patients benefit from the social aspects of communal bed-spaces. Also, when things go wrong, there is some evidence that patients in multi-occupancy bays are helped more quickly and have better outcomes. On the balance of this evidence, it may be that a mixture of single rooms and bays is the best design for a hospital of the future. The UK recommends at least 50% single rooms for new hospitals, which would seem a sensible approach based on the current evidence!



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