Patients in private rooms less likely to get fatal hospital infection, study finds

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Patients who stay in private rooms as opposed to double occupancy rooms have a reduced risk of central line infections, a hospital-acquired infection that causes thousands of deaths each year, a study published in PLOS ONE found.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, looked at discharge records of more than 1 million patients in 335 Texas hospitals.

Five study findings:

1. Patients in double occupancy rooms (bay rooms), had 64 percent more central line infections than patients who stayed in private rooms, the researchers found. 

2. After the researchers adjusted for patient characteristics and risk factors, patients who stayed in bay rooms still had a 21 percent greater risk of a central line infection compared with patients in private rooms. 

3. Hospitals with mostly private rooms had 33 percent fewer central line infections than hospitals with mostly bay rooms.

4. The mortality risk due to central line infections was over twice as high in hospitals with mostly bay rooms. A 10 percent increase in private rooms was linked an 8 percent decrease in central line infections. 

5. Private room assignment significantly varied according to race and geographic region. African-Americans were 63 percent more likely and Hispanics were 44 percent more likely to stay in bay rooms. The older hospitals south and west of San Antonio still have mostly bay rooms.

"We hope that our findings will start to change the conversation in hospital boardrooms from 'How much will private rooms cost?' to 'How many lives will they save?'", said study author Liam O'Neill, PhD.

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