Hospitals that offer private rooms to patients recovering in an intensive care unit (ICU) find up to a 51 percent decrease in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
According to the study, published in the January 10th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, up to 30 percent of ICU patients acquire an HAI during recovery.
"An ICU environment with private rooms may facilitate better infection control practices, therefore reducing the transmission of infectious organisms," study authors wrote. "Conversion to single rooms can substantially reduce the rate at which patients acquire infectious organisms while in the ICU."
The study compared two Canadian hospitals operated by the same university in the same city with similar caregivers. In one hospital, multi-bed ICUs were changed to private rooms. In the other, the multi-bed ICU was left alone.
After nearly 20,000 ICU admissions, researchers found that the hospital with private rooms in the ICU showed a decrease of 47 percent in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, a 43 percent decrease in Clostridium difficile infection and a 51 percent decrease in yeast infections.
Patients in private rooms also benefited from a ten percent shorter length of stay, which Infection Control Today reports may be due to an average potential 8 to 9 day additional hospitalization required after acquisition of an HAI.
While there is expense in renovating hospital ICUs to allow for private care, there may be long-term savings. The potential cost savings to the healthcare system of eliminating those additional days in the hospital may be as high as $3.5 billion each year in the United States.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is one of the most frightening diseases that can affect elderly and long term care patients.
A staph bacteria that is unable to be treated by certain antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin, MRSA can be painful and even fatal.
While the CDC estimates that 85 percent of MRSA infections happen in a healthcare setting, a new study shows that a low nurse-to-patient ratio and simple hand washing can yield significant decreases in MRSA transmission.
Presented at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the study tried different nurse-to-patient ratios in a hospital Intensive Care Unit and found that having a nurse working one-on-one with a patient provided the best results.
“When we finally reduced the nurse-to-patient ratio to 1:1, we saw that this intervention does better than all changes in hand hygiene,” said study researcher Sean Barnes, a PhD student at the University of Maryland. “This is the best scenario, provided it is economically viable.”
Over 18,000 people die each year during a hospital stay that’s related to MRSA. While community-acquired MRSA usually leads to a painful and bothersome skin infection, MRSA acquired in a healthcare setting can cause bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia.
According to the CDC, MRSA is “typically spread in healthcare settings from patient to patient on unclean hands of healthcare personnel or through the improper use or reuse of equipment.”
After it’s acquired, usually the only way to treat MRSA is by draining the infection and sometimes prescribing an antibiotic. Repeat infections are possible.
MRSA can be devastating for someone recovering from surgery or being cared for at home. That’s why it’s important to have a care team with a low nurse-to-patient ratio, and a care team that practices good hand hygiene.