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Private Hospital Rooms Cut Infection, Offset Building Costs

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In the war against infections, constructing single-patient rooms – rather than sick-bay style, multi-patient rooms – reduces hospital-acquired infections among patients. A new Cornell-led study finds that the purported high building costs of private hospital rooms are more than offset by the financial benefits of keeping patients safer from infection.

“We showed that although single-patient rooms are more costly to build and operate, they can result in substantial savings compared with open-bay rooms – all of this by avoiding costs associated with hospital-acquired infections,” said Hessam Sadatsafavi, Cornell postdoctoral researcher and lead author of a recent paper on the Journal of Critical Care.

Hospital-acquired infections are the most common complication of hospital care in the U.S. and lead to extended hospital stays, ultimately increasing cost and risk of mortality. Recent health care reforms in the U.S. link Medicare reimbursements of hospital care to the performance of hospitals, including infection rates. As a result, hospitals are vigilant to reduce incidents of acquired infections like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Pseudomonas and Candida, the three most common – and most difficult to cure – infectious diseases in medical facilities.

The researchers compared costs of constructing single rooms or converting multi-patient rooms to private rooms, including subsequent annual operational costs, and then looked at the “internal rate of return” to assess the financial feasibility of the investment in private rooms. For investors, the internal rate of return must be acceptable – 10 percent, for example – to consider the project feasible. The researchers discovered that building new private rooms or private-room conversions made economic sense, as the internal rate of return – over a five-year analysis period – was 56.18 percent, considerably higher than any liberal estimates of rate of return acceptable by health care organizations.

While creating and operating larger private rooms from multi-patient rooms are expensive, Sadatsafavi says You have to spend additional money to treat the patients that acquired infection, as it would increase their hospital stay, and to contain the sickness – powerful cleaning supplies, support services. Single-patient ICU rooms reduce the cross-transmission rate and avoid extra medical costs to contain infection, and our research showed that these savings offsets capital costs.”

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Abstract

1. Purpose

Evidence shows that single-patient rooms can play an important role in preventing cross-transmission and reducing nosocomial infections in intensive care units (ICUs). This case study investigated whether cost savings from reductions in nosocomial infections justify the additional construction and operation costs of single-bed rooms in ICUs.

2. Materials and methods

We conducted deterministic and probabilistic return-on-investment analyses of converting the space occupied by open-bay rooms to single-bed rooms in an exemplary ICU. We used the findings of a study of an actual ICU in which the association between the locations of patients in single-bed vs open-bay rooms with infection risk was evaluated.

3. Results

Despite uncertainty in the estimates of costs, infection risks, and length of stay, the cost savings from the reduction of nosocomial infections in single-bed rooms in this case substantially outweighed additional construction and operation expenses. The mean value of internal rate of return over a 5-year analysis period was 56.18% (95% credible interval, 55.34%-57.02%).

4. Conclusions

This case study shows that although single-patient rooms are more costly to build and operate, they can result in substantial savings compared with open-bay rooms by avoiding costs associated with nosocomial infections.

 

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Article: You can download the full study “Do Cost Savings from Reductions in Nosocomial Infections Justify Additional Costs of Single-Bed Rooms in Intensive Care Units? A Simulation Case Study,” here.

Source: Cornell University

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