Home On the Wards Want better outcomes? Give patients a room with a view

Want better outcomes? Give patients a room with a view

October 2022

A UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN study delivers a provocative suggestion: The features of patient rooms may affect outcomes, at least among patients undergoing high-risk surgeries. According to the findings, which were presented at the annual conference of the American College of Surgeons, room features like the presence of a window, distance from a nursing station, single-room occupancy and giving clinicians a direct line of sight into patient rooms appeared to influence clinical outcomes.

After adjusting for comorbidities and surgical complexity, for example, patients admitted to hospital rooms without a window had 20% higher mortality rates than patients in rooms with a window. Thirty-day mortality rates were 10% higher in patients in rooms without a window.

The study found that length of stay didn’t seem to impact mortality rates.

This is not the first study to show the impact that patient rooms can have on patient recovery after surgery. A well-known 1984 study, for example, found that patients’ rooms with windows could positively influence patient recovery after surgery. Few studies since then, however, have looked at how room features could actually affect outcomes.

The recent study looked at nearly 4,000 patients who underwent 13 high-risk surgeries including colectomy, pancreatectomy and kidney transplant, at the University of Michigan Hospital between 2016 and 2019. Patients were admitted to rooms on two hospital floors.

In a press release, study authors acknowledged that it was impractical to redesign hospitals based on their findings. But they suggested that the sickest patients could be prioritized for hospital rooms that have the features that are most conducive to a post-surgical recovery.

“Just the way we have developed precision health models for getting the right care to the patient,” they wrote, “there may be a corollary for the right room for the right patient and procedure to optimize outcomes collectively.”

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