Hospital Construction Guidelines Will Require All Private Rooms
The Facilities Guidelines Institute and the Academy of Architecture for Health at the American Institute of Architects in April will publish new guidelines for hospital construction that for the first time will require all private rooms, the Wall Street Journal reports. The guidelines, which are published every four years, are used by more than 40 state governments to establish hospitals regulations, approve construction projects and license operations.
Under the new guidelines:
- New hospital construction projects will have to include all private rooms, although the guidelines might exempt facilities that can demonstrate "the necessity of a two-bed arrangement," such as the need to maintain surge capacity in certain areas of the U.S.;
- Hospitals will have to establish more areas that they can isolate in the event of an infectious disease outbreak; and
- Hospitals will have to improve ventilation systems to prevent the spread of bacteria.
According to the Journal, the new guidelines seek to address concerns about patient safety and costs as "evidence mounts that shared rooms lead to higher infection rates, more medical errors, privacy violations and harmful stress."
Craig Zimring, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that, with the additional costs from infections and other risks in shared rooms, "we can't afford to operate U.S. hospitals that have anything other than private rooms."
Scot Latimer, a consultant at Kurt Salmon Associations, added that, although construction of hospitals with only private rooms will cost more initially, "they pay for themselves very quickly and are much less expensive to operate" in the long term.
In addition, Richard Van Enk, an epidemiologist at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Michigan, said that federal medical privacy regulations are difficult to enforce in shared rooms.
However, some experts said that not all hospitals will have the ability to move to all private rooms. In addition, some experts said that hospitals must have surge capacity to address potential emergencies or infectious disease outbreaks.
"If the choice is one patient in a private room and the other one in a hallway, two in a room is obviously better for patients," Dale Woodin, deputy executive director of the American Hospital Association health care engineering society, said (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 3/22).