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Private Hospital Rooms Are Safer, Study Finds

A new study found that private hospital rooms reduce the risk of dangerous hospital-acquired infection, known as a central line infection. These infections are acquired through central venous catheters, and cause about 5,000 to 10,000 deaths each year.

The study, conducted by Liam O’Neill, Sae-Hwan Park, and Frank Rosinia from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, examined discharge records for more than one million patients across 335 hospitals in Texas. The research team found that patients who stayed in double occupancy rooms had 64% more central line infections than patients who stayed in private rooms.

Hospitals with mostly private rooms had 33% fewer central line infections than hospitals with mostly double occupancy rooms. And the mortality risk due to central line infections was more than twice as high in hospitals with mostly double occupancy rooms. A 10% increase in private rooms was associated with an 8% decrease in central line infections.

Private rooms are more prevalent in the “Texas Triangle,” which encompasses Austin, Dallas, and Houston. This region has experienced the most construction of new hospitals.

“We hope that our findings will start to change the conversation in hospital board rooms from ‘How much will private rooms cost?’ to ‘How many lives will they save?’” says study author Liam O’Neill.

The study was published in medical journal PLOS One.

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