Patients typically prefer single rooms in the ICU because of the privacy, and a new study suggests such rooms are safer as well.
Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, reporting for a study in the Jan. 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, found the rates of infection at Montreal General Hospital dropped significantly after the opening of a new ICU that had only single-patient rooms.
Between 2000 and 2005, based on an analysis of data from 19,343 ICU admissions, the risk of acquiring Clostridium difficile, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant eneterococci was a combined 54% lower at Montreal General than at the ICU in a nearby facility, Royal Victoria Hospital, where many rooms contained multiple patients. Rates of MRSA (47% lower) and C. difficile (43% lower) showed especially significant differences.
In all, the ICU with only single-patient rooms had lower rates of infections by 12 organisms when compared to the ICU at the other hospital. Other noteworthy differences were in Acinetobacter (53% lower), yeast infections (51% lower), Enterobacter (38% lower) and Klebsiella (38% lower).
For patients at Montreal General, the average length of stay during the time span of the study increased by 10% less than the increase at Royal Victoria.
Conversion to single rooms can substantially reduce the rate at which patients acquire infectious organisms while in the ICU, the researchers concluded.