The curtain between two hospital beds does not stop noise from the television set, offer privacy during sensitive conversations with doctors or stop germs from spreading. Yet in most of America’s aging hospitals it is the only thing that separates strangers thrust together as roommates simply because both are ill. But in many new hospitals and pavilions, these semiprivate rooms have vanished. Single-patient rooms are now viewed as an important element of high-quality healthcare. The benefits of the single room emerged through evidence-based hospital design, a new field that guides health care construction. More than 1,500 studies have examined ways that design can reduce medical errors, infections and falls — and relieve patient stress.
American hospitals started 53 million square feet of new construction and major additions in 2008, according to a report by McGraw-Hill Construction, a company that tracks industry trends. Promoters of evidence-based design say that a building exerts a powerful force on the delivery of health care, and that the best new health centers are light-filled, quiet and easy to navigate.
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Posted May 24, 2009