A recent study found that constructing single-patient rooms in health care facilities – rather than sick-bay style, multi-patient rooms – reduces hospital-acquired infections among patients. A Cornell University-led study reported that the purported high building costs of private hospital rooms are more than offset by the financial benefits of keeping patients safer from infection.

According to reports from the Cornell Chronicle, hospitals are vigilant to reduce incidents of acquired infections such as 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. They 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 a capital project feasible.

The researchers discovered that building new private rooms or private-room conversions made economic sense. 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, one researcher said: “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.”

Read this full report here.