A new study shows that sharing a hospital room with another person can increase your risk of getting an infection during the stay.
The Queen's University study led by infectious diseases expert Dr. Dick Zoutman says the chance of acquiring serious infections like C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) rises with the addition of every hospital roommate.
"If you're in a two, three or four-bedded room, each time you get a new roommate your risk of acquiring these serious infections increases by 10 per cent," says Dr. Zoutman, professor of Community Health and Epidemiology at Queen's. "That's a substantial risk, particularly for longer hospital stays when you can expect to have many different roommates."
Dr. Zoutman suggests hospitals need to consider more private rooms in their planning. "Despite other advances, multi-bedded rooms are still part of hospital design in the 21st century. Building hospitals with all private rooms is not yet the standard in Ontario or Canada - but it should be."
The study has been published on-line in the American Journal of Infection Control.
"One important way to improve patient safety in our hospitals is to reduce the number of roommates that patients are exposed to during their hospital stay," Zoutman stresses.
"Especially in acute care hospitals, where the risks are highest, we need to change our room configurations as much as current resources will allow, and strive to design and build new hospital facilities with entirely private rooms," the expert added.