JAMA Logo Private room intensive care units seem to be extremely beneficial in declining infection rates. A latest study asserts that converting hospital intensive care units (ICUs) to private rooms leads to a decrease in the rate at which patients acquire infections. It was suggested that ICU environment with private rooms offer better infection control practices.

At the time of the study, investigators compared the rates of patient-acquired infections before and after a change from multibed rooms to single, private rooms, that was referred to as an intervention hospital. For the control group, data from patients admitted to a similar multibed facility at a second university hospital considered as comparison hospital was assessed. Infection rates for a total of 19,343 ICU admissions at both hospitals between 2000 and 2005 were thoroughly evaluated. Having converted the multibed ICU to all private rooms, the acquisition rate of infectious organisms probably altered.

Scientists add, “An ICU environment with private rooms may facilitate better infection control practices, therefore reducing the transmission of infectious organisms. Conversion to single rooms can substantially reduce the rate at which patients acquire infectious organisms while in the ICU.”

While methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) seemingly reduced by 47 percent and the rate of Clostridium difficile acquisition decreased 43 percent, yeast acquisition declined by 51 percent. The adjusted rate of acquisition of C difficile, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species (VRE), and MRSA combined supposedly contracted by 54 percent after the transition from multibed rooms to private rooms.

The average length of stay for patients in the ICU at the comparison hospital apparently elevated at a steady speed. On the other hand, the average length of stay at the intervention hospital fluctuated, but no increase in the overall number was registered. Dana Y. Teltsch, M.Sc., and colleagues from McGill University, Montreal, noted that the average length of stay in the ICU declined by 10 percent on switching to private rooms.

The study is published in the January 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.