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Review of the Literature: Acuity-Adaptable Patient Room

Originally Published:
Key Point Summary
Key Concepts/Context

Acuity-adaptable rooms allow patients to stay in one room from the time they are admitted to when they leave, regardless of their acuity level. These specially equipped private rooms are staffed by nurses who have the skills and training to support the complete range of care for patients with similar conditions or disease processes. The rooms are larger in size than a regular hospital room to accommodate various patients’ needs as their condition changes, such as critical care equipment, additional staff, procedures, and family members. Research shows that acuity-adaptable rooms reduce transport costs, decrease errors, minimize workflow bottlenecks, and enhance patient care. 


This literature review provides a summary of the research to date on acuity-adaptable patient rooms.


The authors conducted a comprehensive literature review using OVID to search MEDLINE, PubMed, EBSCOhost, PsycINFO, WorldCat, Cochrane, and TWU. They also used Google to explore Web pages of regulatory bodies and other institutions to find gray literature and studies. Further, the authors sought expert opinions to examine the contrasting view between policy level decisions to choose single rooms and available evidence. Finally, they also identified research and anecdotal reports in relevant healthcare design journals and peer-reviewed journals in nursing management.

Design Implications
Anecdotal reports and clinical observations indicate that acuity-adaptable rooms improve patient outcomes, result in cost savings for the hospital, and increase nurse satisfaction in care processes. However, there is a definite need for additional empirical research to validate these assertions and add to the body of knowledge. Empirical studies have suggested that patients placed in an acuity-adaptable room have significant outcomes in patient safety, patient and family healing, staff stress and effectiveness, and improved overall healthcare quality and cost.  

The authors found 48 articles in the literature search and discuss length of stay, infection control, patient safety, nurse activities, noise levels, and patient and staff satisfaction with these types of rooms in this article. They also highlight gaps in the research.


Design Category
Room configuration and layout|Unit configuration and layout
Outcome Category
Error related outcomes|HAI related outcomes|Patient / resident health outcomes|Patient / resident satisfaction and comfort
Environmental Condition Category
Patient Satisfaction and Comfort|Sound
Primary Author
Bonuel, N.