Residing in a private room during a hospital stay may save lives by reducing the risk of acquiring a central line infection, suggests a study of more than 1 million patients published recently in PLOS ONE.

Central line infections are acquired through central venous catheters and reportedly cause an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 deaths each year, according to a media release from Sae-Hwan Park, one of the study’s researchers.

University of North Texas Health Science Center researchers Park, as well as Liam O’Neill and Frank Rosinia, examined discharge records for more than 1 million patients across 335 hospitals in Texas. They found that patients who stayed in bay (double occupancy) rooms had 64% more central line infections than patients who stayed in private rooms.

After adjusting for patient characteristics and risk factors, patients who stayed in bay rooms still had a 21% greater risk of a central line infection compared to patients assigned to private rooms.

Hospitals whose physical layout consisted of mostly private rooms had 33% fewer central line infections than hospitals with mostly bay rooms.  The mortality risk due to central line infections was more than twice as high in hospitals with mostly bay rooms. A 10% increase in private rooms was associated with an 8% decrease in central line infections.

The chance of being assigned to a private room differed significantly by race and geographic region. African-Americans were 63% more likely and Hispanics were 44% more likely to stay in bay rooms.

South and west of San Antonio, hospitals are older and bay rooms still predominate. Private rooms are more prevalent in the “Texas Triangle,” that encompasses Austin, Dallas, and Houston, since this region has seen the 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?” O’Neill says, in the release.

[Source(s): Sae-Hwan Park, PR Newswire]