The Impact of Single Family NICU Rooms

Jan 01, 2006

A recent trend in the design of neonatal intensive care facilities has been to increase the number of private patient rooms. Several factors have contributed to the recent popularity of single-family rooms (SFRs): 1) supportive data on infant outcomes, 2) increased understanding of the impact of family-centered care, 3) the hospital-wide trend toward private rooms, 4) the success of innovative prototypes, and 5) the need to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The purpose of this study was to explore the implications of SFRs relative to open-bay arrangements.

The settings included eleven single family room, open-bay, combination and double occupancy Level III NICUs. The research design used plan reviews, site visits and behavioral observation. Construction cost data were evaluated based on first costs adjusted to 2005 values and normalized to the National City Average as described by R. S. Means Building Construction Cost Data, 63rd Annual Edition. Anonymous personal health information was collected to compare patient medical outcomes. Surveys with NICU medical staff and parents explored preferences.

Based on the results of this study, it is suggested that SFR NICU design provides solutions for increasing parent privacy and presence, supporting HIPAA compliance, minimizing undesirable beds, increasing staff and parent satisfaction, and reducing nursing staff stress. Potential limitations of the SFR design are reduced parent-to-parent social contact and the potential for isolation of both parents and staff. In the projects reviewed in this study, construction cost difference between open-bay and SFR was 3%.

Debra D. Harris, Ph.D.
Mardelle McCuskey Shepley, D. Arch
Robert White, M.D.
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The Center for Health Design

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