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Commentary
August 27, 2008

Single-Patient Rooms for Safe Patient-Centered Hospitals

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of General Internal Medicine, Patient Safety Service, and Centre for Health Services Sciences, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada (Dr Etchells); Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (Drs Detsky and Etchells).

JAMA. 2008;300(8):954-956. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.954

In the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, hospital accommodations consisted of large multi-bed wards with as many as 20 patients, and semi-private or private rooms for those who could pay. Patients received care in these facilities for decades after the design had become obsolete. Almost 90 years ago, it was proposed that single-patient rooms were the ideal setting to provide patient care.1 In the last half of the 20th century, new hospitals were built featuring mostly single-, double-, and 4-bed rooms. It is likely that these hospitals may not be able to adequately provide safe patient-centered care over the next 50 years of their life span. Most modern hospitals have public value statements regarding safety, dignity, privacy, and patient-centered care. A tangible way to show commitment to these values would be to give patients their bed with their own bathroom in a single-patient room.

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