Facility design can help reduce hospital-acquired infections

Hospital-acquired infections contribute to more than 88,000 deaths a year & cost $16 billion

August 8, 2006 — /PRNewswire/ — CONCORD, Calif. — Research evidence shows that facility design, specifically that which affects the transmission of infection through air, surface, water — can help in reducing hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infections — a leading cause of death in the U.S.

This issue is explored in a 16-page paper recently released by The Center for Health Design (CHD) titled “The Impact of the Environment on Infections in Healthcare Facilities.” The paper is available for free download at http://www.healthdesign.org.

“Hospital-acquired infections kill more Americans each year than AIDS, breast cancer, or automobile accidents,” says Anjali Joseph, Ph.D., CHD’s Director of Research and author of the paper. In 1995 alone, she reports that nosocomial infections contributed to more than 88,000 deaths — one death every six minutes — and cost $4.5 billion. The total number of nosocomial infections a year is estimated to be 2 million, equating to roughly $16 billion in additional healthcare spending.

Key research findings presented in the paper include:

–Good air quality can be maintained by providing clean filtered air and effectively controlling indoor air pollution through ventilation. Adequate ventilation rates and regular cleaning and maintenance of the ventilation system are also critical.

–Environmental support for handwashing — providing numerous, conveniently located alcohol-rub dispensers or washing sinks — can increase compliance. Installing alcohol-based hand cleaner dispensers at bedside usually improves adherence.

–Single-bed rooms are easier to disinfect than multi-occupancy rooms. The threat of infections spread through contact transmission of pathogens is also reduced in single-bed rooms with conveniently located sinks.

–Regular cleaning, maintenance, and testing of water systems and point- of-use fixtures can help prevent the spread of waterborne infections, such as Legionnaires’ disease.

The paper is the first in a series of Issue Papers funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of a grant to CHD to develop new Learning Tools. The second paper, which will be released shortly is on the impact of light in healthcare facilities.

CHD is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization whose mission is to transform healthcare settings into healing environments that improve outcomes through the creative use of evidence-based design.

Source: The Center for Health Design

CONTACT: Sara Marberry, Executive Director, The Center for Health
Design, +1-925-521-9404, [email protected]

Web site: http://www.healthdesign.org


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