Are Patient Rooms Important?

Well-designed patient bedrooms are key to efficient, well-run hospitals that fulfill their missions of healing patients. Although patient rooms are not integral to procedures, and they don’t require specialized, complicated equipment, their importance cannot be downplayed. During hospital stays, patients spend more than 90% of their time in patient rooms. Within a massive clinical organism, the patient room is the only space dedicated to the individual. These sacred places, to where patients retire to convalesce, are the de facto cores of healing in every hospital. Nurses, who are so integral to the healing process, and family members attend to patients in their hospital rooms, and doctors monitor their patients’ ongoing recovery in their rooms.

Having recently been involved in the planning of several international hospitals, I have become acutely aware of the need for a “primer” on patient room design. While most of the countries in which I have been working have a well established health system, their perspective of the patient environment is frighteningly medieval. There is little hesitation in designing multi-bed wards, hygiene is completely overlooked and the patient family is seen as nothing more than a nuisance. How wrong they are! Single bedded rooms reduce transmission of hospital-based infections, most of which are transmitted by staff members who do not practice proper infection control through hygiene and the family has become an integral part of the patient care model. Family involvement speeds recovery and reduces staffing needs thereby reducing hospital overhead.

I will devote my next few blogs to the design and construction of patient rooms. I invite your thoughts and hope you enjoy them.

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