When it opens in spring 2010, the eight-story Patient Care Addition at Northwest Community Hospital will feature 200 private patient rooms. The focus on private accommodations, once considered just a luxury at hospitals, has an expanding list of benefits when compared to the more traditional shared rooms.
“There’s a growing body of research that creates a compelling case for giving patients a private environment,” said hospital President and CEO Bruce Crowther. “The benefits are instrumental not just for the patients, but for doctors, nurses and the hospital itself.”
The advantages of private hospital rooms include improved patient safety, increased satisfaction among patients and staff, and positive financial implications for the hospital. On patient safety, benefits include:
- Lower infection rates. Data indicates that single rooms decrease the chance of airborne infections posed by the proximity to infected patients.
- Fewer patient falls. Patients in spacious private rooms are more likely to have family members or friends present who can help them get around more easily.
- Fewer medical errors. Private rooms reduce the number of times patients have to be moved. This promotes continuity of care among the nursing staff, and increases direct nursing time.
- Decreased length of stay. Because private rooms reduce hospital-acquired infections, falls and medical errors, patients in these rooms have shorter hospital visits.
The privacy and control enjoyed by patients in single rooms greatly increases their levels of satisfaction, Crowther said. “The environmental factors such as less noise, more control of the TV and temperature, and less crowding all play a role in improving the patient’s healing process,” he said.
The private room environment also makes the jobs of nurses, physicians and other healthcare employees easier, improving their levels of satisfaction. “A happy staff stays longer, and that’s an important factor in today’s competitive job market,” Crowther said. “Hospitals with higher staff retention achieve higher scores in quality.”
Regarding financial implications for the hospital, research is increasingly showing that premium construction costs for private rooms can be recovered through operational savings. “The benefits of private rooms are interrelated,” Crowther said. “Improvements in infection rates, patient falls, patient transport rates, medical errors, and length of stay all translate into a better bottom line for our budget. We need to operate efficiently.”