Fabric curtain systems in healthcare facilities are designed to give patients privacy, but new studies say they may be providing much more than that. According to a research study by the University of Michigan Medical Center, fabric hospital room partitions host hazardous drug-resistant germs that can survive on bedside curtains undetected, and alive, for months at a time.
The results of this study show that up to 28% of curtains sampled in six of the top healthcare facilities in Michigan contained bacteria resistant to powerful antibiotics. The researchers also found that these bacteria are not simply living on the curtains; they are responsible for spreading illnesses to patients—many of which have vulnerable immune systems—and to the staff members who care for them.
In order to keep the curtains and remove the germs, curtain dividers would need to be removed and washed between patients, which is simply an unrealistic standard for the high volume turn over in hospital and emergency rooms.
In many emergency rooms, space must remain completely fluid and open to be as dynamic as possible. Rigid walls, even portable glass hospital room partitions on tracks, would limit the space and ability for staff to move around which can be life-threatening.
With Full Transparency, Comes Lack Of Privacy
In many new hospitals, patient rooms are made of glass partitions, or at the least, have glass windows, and doors. Why? Glass hospital partition screens provide:
- Better sound isolation
- Space maximization
- Easier access, and less intrusive, patient monitoring
But with simple glass comes compromise: full transparency means lack of privacy. To make the space private, fabric curtains or blinds are placed in the rooms. Every time a patient wants or requires privacy, staff or family touches the fabric curtains, continuing the spread of these disease-causing bacteria.
Healthcare Architects Keep The Privacy With Switchable Glass
For this reason, many healthcare architects who specialize in how a hospital floor plan affects health outcomes are increasingly choosing modern solutions like switchable privacy glass over curtain dividers and fabric-based partitions.
LCG® switchable privacy glass addresses each of these needs. Smart privacy glass uses a technology that allows glass to change from transparent to varying levels of opacity for instant privacy. It is easily integrated into any partitioning system including ICU units, allows staff to check on patients without disturbing them, and most importantly, is easy to clean, ensuring areas are sterile during and after a patient’s stay.
Check Out Our Ultimate Guide To Smart Glass