Risk of infection 21 percent higher when patients share a room

A recent study found that patients who share rooms are 21 percent more likely to catch an infection.

A large study by researchers at the University of North Texas Health Science Center has found that patients who share a room with other patients are at a much higher risk of acquiring a central line infection, according to Consumer Affairs. Infections are among the leading cause of hospital errors and central line infections alone are responsible for between 5,000 to 10,000 deaths each year. A separate study found that hospital staff routinely fail to take proper precautions that could stem the spread of infections.

Private vs. shared hospital rooms

The study looked at the discharge records of more than one million patients at 335 hospitals in Texas and found that patients who were admitted to double-occupancy rooms had 64 percent more central line infections than patients in private rooms. Even when adjusting for specific risk factors, the study found that the chance of acquiring a central line infection was 21 percent higher for patients sharing a room versus those in private rooms.

Central line infections lead to between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths annually and are caused by germs that are spread through venous catheters.

The study also found that the risk of dying of such infections was twice as high at hospitals that consisted mostly of double-occupancy rooms than at those that consisted mainly of private rooms. African-Americans and Hispanic patients were more likely to be placed in a double-occupancy room, although this may be because these two groups are more likely to be admitted to older hospitals where double-occupancy rooms are more common than private rooms.

Staff fail to take precautions

Given that infections are one of the leading causes of preventable patient harm in hospitals, it is important to understand ways of curtailing their spread. As Becker's Hospital Review reports, a separate study found that inadequate safety precautions may be the reason infections spread so quickly at some hospitals.

In that study, researchers monitored hospital staff at 325 separate patient rooms across three hospitals between March and November of 2016. Of those 325 rooms observations, the researchers witnessed 283 failures on the part of hospital staff that could result in the spread of infections. Those failures included deviations from safe operating practice, procedural mistakes, and slips, such as cleaning areas with contaminated gloves.

Representing victims

Medical errors lead to thousands of avoidable injuries and deaths every year. Anybody who may have been the victim of a hospital error should contact a medical malpractice attorney today. An experienced attorney can help clients with various aspects of their case, including possibly helping them pursue compensation that they may be entitled to.