Patient Satisfaction

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Patient satisfaction is critically important to the health care industry today due to the competitive nature of the field. Patients have many choices when it comes to seeking medical attention, and hospitals are dependent on return business to stay operational. Hospitals have traditionally utilized the semi-private room model in order to increase profitability. A semi-private room is a room shared by two patients. Each patient is given their own bed, but they usually share a single bathroom. Unfortunately the financial practice of using semi-private rooms comes at the expense of patient satisfaction. Research has shown that private rooms increase patient satisfaction, because of the decreased likelihood of nosocomial infection, a quieter environment, and the inherent privacy afforded when conducting patient care. Nosocomial Infection

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing healthcare today is the epidemic of hospital acquired (nosocomial) infection. Patients come to the hospital for varying degrees of injury, or illness with the expectation of receiving medical treatment. What they are not expecting is exposure to potentially life threatening infections during their stay. According to a joint study by Jimma University and Addis Ababa University the most common causative agent found in nosocomial infection is Staphylococcus aureus. This harmful pathogen can be transmitted via direct or indirect contact. This means the pathogen can be transmitted by patient to patient contact, staff to patient contact, or the sharing of a common surface like a toilet seat (Bereket et al., 2012). Patients in private rooms are far less likely to come into contact with each other, shared surfaces, or shared medical equipment all of which can harbor infectious microorganisms (Skocynska et al., 2012). Standardizing the practice of private rooms can greatly reduce nosocomial infection rates within patient populations. Patient's who contract nosocomial infection are bound to have lower satisfaction rates. By reducing the nosocomial infection rate hospitals can ensure increased patient satisfaction.

To make matters worse strains of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are becoming commonplace. MRSA is easily transmittable and resistant to most commonly used antimicrobial agents (Bereket et al., 2012). Nosocomial infections such as MRSA result in increased length of stay, higher morbidity rates, and increased cost of hospitalization. Recent studies have shown that each exposure to a new roommate in the hospital setting results in a 10% increase in the risk of acquiring MRSA (Stall, 2012). Private rooms eliminate the possibility of exposure to MRSA infection related to roommates in the hospital setting, which vastly reduces the rate of hospital acquired MRSA infections amongst all patient populations. Reducing the spread of MRSA can result in decreased length of stay, lower morbidity rates, and decreased cost of hospitalization. A hospital concerned about patient satisfaction can see the value that private rooms have to offer when it comes to reducing MRSA exposure.

Proper hygiene is also of major concern where nosocomial infection is concerned. Unfortunately staff members are usually to blame for spreading infectious microorganisms from one patient to the next. Studies have shown healthcare professionals are more likely to perform hand hygiene between patient rooms rather than between beds in the same room (Bereket et al., 2012). This is not necessarily due to a failing on the part of healthcare professionals, but a failing of healthcare systems utilizing semi private rooms. Take this scenario for instance: a nurse is working with a patient in a semiprivate room when suddenly the bed alarm goes off on the neighboring bed. The roommate is an elderly female with Alzheimer's-dementia who recently fell at home and suffered a fractured hip. The nurse has already been in physical contact with one patient and now has to take...
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