TUESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Intensive care unit (ICU) patients in single, private rooms have lower infection rates than patients in shared rooms, a new study finds.
About 30 percent of patients in ICUs acquire health care-associated infections, which can lead to serious illness and death, the study authors noted in background information in their report.
"In ICU patients, these infections are associated with an increased length of stay of eight to nine days, and the resulting additional cost from excess stay alone is estimated to be $3.5 billion per year in the United States," Dana Y. Teltsch, and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, wrote in the study published in the Jan. 10 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For this study, the researchers looked at infection rates among patients at a hospital before and after it changed the ICU from multibed rooms to private rooms (intervention hospital), and at another hospital that maintained a multibed ICU (comparison hospital). In total, the investigators analyzed 19,343 ICU admissions at the two hospitals between 2000 and 2005.
The McGill team found the following changes at the hospital that switched to private ICU rooms: a 47 percent decrease in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections; a 43 percent decrease in cases of Clostridium difficile; a 51 percent decrease in yeast infections; and a 54 percent decrease in cases of MRSA, C. difficile and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species (VRE) combined.
The average length of stay for patients at the comparison hospital increased during the study, while the adjusted length of stay at the intervention hospital fell by an estimated 10 percent after the switch to private rooms.
"An ICU environment with private rooms may facilitate better infection control practices, therefore reducing the transmission of infectious organisms," the researchers concluded in a journal news release. "Conversion to single rooms can substantially reduce the rate at which patients acquire infectious organisms while in the ICU."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about health care-acquired infections.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Jan. 10, 2011
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