Change affects all areas of healthcare organizations, and none more so than the patient room. It is there that the issues faced by the major players in healing environments—administrator, caregiver, family member, and the patient – all come into sharp focus. And as hospitals continue to build new or renovate existing facilities, it is imperative that patient rooms be designed to adapt as well as enrich the healthcare environment for all involved in the continuum of care.
Using Design to Deter Infection
Administrators have the same goal as the other key participants in a hospital setting: returning a patient to good health. A key part of that goal is hospital-acquired infection (HAI) prevention.
Germs causing infections can live on surfaces for months, and can be spread easily. While in theory it might take 30 to 60 minutes to thoroughly clean a patient room, the staff might have only eight minutes to clean it before a new patient arrives. One way to compensate for this is to install furnishings designed for easy cleaning, i.e. surfaces without crevices.
Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent infections; unfortunately even healthcare professionals who know the importance of doing it don’t always make time for it: one study reports that 60 percent don’t. Here, too, design matters. Deep, splash-free sinks should be located near the door and at least three feet away from the patient.