January 14, 2011

Private ICUs Lower Infection Risks

By: Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new report shows hospital infection rates are reduced when intensive care units (ICUs) are converted into private rooms.

Dana Y. Teltsch, M.Sc., Ph.D. candidate, and her colleagues from McGill University, compared infection rates for 19,343 ICU admissions at two hospitals between 2000 and 2005. At the first hospital, the researchers compared the patient-acquired infection rates before and after patients were moved from multi-bed rooms to single rooms. Meanwhile, patients admitted to a similar, multi-bed facility at a second, nearby university hospital were used as the control group.

"Health care-associated infections occur in about 30 percent of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and are associated with substantial morbidity and mortality," the authors wrote as background information in the article.

Researchers found that when multi-bed ICUs were converted into private rooms, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) rates dropped by 47-percent. The rate of Clostridium difficile (a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to a deadly inflammation of the colon) decreased 43-percent, and yeast acquisition dropped 51-percent.

"We're thinking that private rooms have better hygiene and better infection control practices," Teltsch told Ivanhoe.

Researchers also found that the average length of stay for patients at the second hospital increased during the study. The average length of stay for patients at the first (converted) hospital fluctuated but never increased.

"In general, hospital-acquired infections are associated with longer periods of stay at hospital ICUs," Teltsch said.

In the article, the authors noted that these infections are associated with an increased length of stay of eight to nine days, and the resulting cost from excess stay alone is estimated to be $3.5 billion per year in the United States.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, January 10, 2011