News Headlines Article

Designing a Hospital to Better Fight Infection
The Wall Street Journal

In a new approach to reducing the scourge of hospital-acquired infections, a team of scientists has been testing thousands of microbe samples from a Chicago hospital to learn how a medical building might make patients sicker.

Data from the three-year Hospital Microbiome Project are still being analyzed. So far the team has found factors including ventilation and humidity, and design features such as furnishings and fixtures, affect the kinds of bacteria people encounter inside a hospital in ways that impact their health. The scientists aim one day to slow the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospital settings by manipulating conditions from room to room to keep pathogens in check.

They also hope eventually to make the hospital building itself a curative probiotic—perhaps by infusing walls or furnishings with bacteria that enhance patient health and recovery.