One of my cousins was recently hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. When I went to visit her after she’d woken up from a coma, there were as many as eight people crowded into her room during the two hours I was there. We sat in folding chairs and stood in corners. She had the only private room on the unit.
This was a very reputable hospital in Central Illinois — a college town serving a three-county population of more than 200,000. The hospital gave her good care. But its facilities were dated.
Thanks, in part, to changes in the facility guidelines in 2006, most new hospitals today have private rooms. But what about the old ones? How many 20-30-year-old smaller hospitals in the middle of the country still have semi-private rooms?
The case for private rooms is well documented. Evidence-based design research has shown that they contribute to many positive outcomes, including lower infection rates, fewer falls, better sleep, and less medication errors. All of that adds up to increased patient satisfaction, too — and better HCAHPS scores.
Is there any reason, other than cost, that hospitals aren’t converting to all-private rooms? If only we had a magic wand to make them all disappear. Hopefully, as the need for beds declines due to advances in technology and treatment protocols, administrators at these hold out hospitals will see that now is the time to make a change.
Because no one should have to share a hospital room with another patient and eight of her relatives.
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