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Bad Hospital Design Causes Bad Health Outcomes

By: Allan M. Siegel

There is a significant amount of research that indicates we are building our hospitals wrong. ‘Wrong’ in the sense that the way most hospitals are currently designed do not improve patients’ health outcomes, but rather contributes to increased sickness and death.

A recent article in the New York Times by Dr. Dhruv Kullar examines some of these studies, including one by the World Health Organization which noted that 30% of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) get an infection. It further noted that the longer you stay in the ICU, the more likely you are to get an infection.

A big part of the problem is that patients have to share space, often only separated by a flimsy piece of cloth. Several studies indicate that single-patient rooms are safer for patients. One study found that converting to single-patient rooms would reduce bacterial infections by 50% and reduce the time hospitalized by 10%. Additional research found that having de-centralized nursing stations reduce the risks of fall injuries. The study noted, for example, that “[p]atient falls declined by 75 percent in the Cardiac Critical Care Unit at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., which made better use of nursing staff by spreading out their stations and placing them near patients' rooms.”

There is a lot we could do to improve hospitalized patients’ health outcomes, and we have the evidence to back it up. Designing hospitals based on such evidence would dramatically improve patients’ health, their length of stay, as well as outcomes for families and hospital staff. Too many preventable illnesses and deaths have occurred just because of poor design.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, we take patients’ negative experiences with hospital systems seriously. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by the negligence of a hospital or doctor, please give us a call today for a free consultation to discuss your potential case.