Designing for Patient Health and Safety

“First, Do No Harm”

Doctors uphold this expectation by being on the top of their game. The same standard goes for the environment because this is where the true healing takes place and the space is the representative and tangle representation of how the doctor desires to serve his/her patients. Medical interiors have always not just aimed to be beautiful but safe as well. The hazards are real, especially for the sick, and there are quite a few to look out for. Physical risks like injury are preventable and even more prominent are the invisible bacterial threats that may cause more medical problems that it acquired its own name: Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI’s). Safety is and always has been the primary consideration to promote a positive patient experience. Because when a patient feels safe, they become comfortable in your care and they build trust in your capabilities.

While cleaning and disinfection protocols by the medical staff help reduce the risk of HAI’s, we want to focus more on the design and technologies that elevate the safety of your Medical space. Today we give you 7 elements to consider to make your facilities safe, secure, comfortable and beautiful for your patients.

  1. Bacteria-Resistant Finishes

    Materials matter. Choosing interior finishing materials that are antimicrobial is the first line of defense against contamination from any infection or disease. HAI’s thrive on surfaces that have not been thoroughly sanitized so the ease of how these surfaces can be cleaned should be a top consideration.

    Copper is an amazing material that works against microbes at a chemical level not to mention durable and aesthetic. While other metals and materials can hold bacteria and viruses for 2-8 days, copper kills off the infection within 4 hours. Do not limit copper to plumbing fixtures; if possible, think handrails, doorknobs, kick plates and any metal fixture that comes in contact with our hands. Putting copper to work in other applications has produced copper-oxide impregnated fabrics that can be used in the bed linens and curtains that benefit from the same sterilizing property.

  2. Smooth, Seamless, Solid

    Aside from antibacterial and antiviral considerations, Material finishes need to be specified and installed to be as safe enough that they will not cause harm or injury; and sturdy enough to withstand abuse. When looking at materials think of the following qualities – smooth, seamless, and solid.

    Smooth materials are those that do not have pores where dirt, water, or other particles can accumulate. They are impervious surfaces that can be wiped off easily which works well for disinfection. Glazed materials or those with a thorough protective coating will be easy to handle and easy to clean.

    Seamless materials like sheets or fabric work as one cohesive surface that doesn’t have edges. Seams, where one surface meets another are points of weakness that can come undone and cause injuries like tripping. Vinyl flooring that can come in rolls can cover longer spans without any cuts. They are durable than rubber flooring and are easier to disinfect.

    Solid materials are materials that have sufficient volume and thickness to carry patient loads.

  3. Handwashing Stations

    Access to handwashing stations is an effective way to promote hygiene to the staff, patients, and visitors. Placing them on every bedroom, at certain intervals for a given length of the corridor, at places where they will be readily visible is a surefire way to enjoin people to wash their hands as frequently as possible. Frequent handwashing is the most direct way to sanitize our hands that disrupts the further transmission of germs from one place to another and providing numerous access to these facilities encourages the practice even more.

  4. Visible Light Disinfection

    Think of lighting as another tool for disinfection. Using a particular spectrum of colored light, UV Lighting and Indigo lighting are germicidal irradiation technologies that uses a specific light’s molecular action to kill pathogens on surfaces and the air. They are particularly helpful in operating rooms because the light bounces off surfaces to clean the space and everything in it thoroughly. It supports the primary disinfection protocols of Medical practice and it can be automated to lessen human intervention

  5. Anticipate Accidents

    Design with patient vulnerability in mind will help anticipate the kind of support they will need for a particular space. Bathrooms are particularly high-risk for trips and falls. A floor surface that is non-skid, and marginally sloped will remove the need for changes in floor levels and continuous railings will be a constant support throughout the room

  6. Indoor Air Quality

    This is going beyond temperature and comfort. Investing in a controlled air system that not just recirculates fresh air into a room but actively removes pollutants, allergens, and pathogens from the indoor air is great at making sure airborne contaminants will not go around. These systems can also work to isolate air circulation from one space into another. For example, a controlled air system can isolate the airflow from an ICU Room without the risk of spreading the disease further.

  7. Technology

    Technology is truly the wave of the future. More than ever, technology can be used for a lot more in the Medical setting. Information technology for example, makes it easy to integrate and automate the healthcare workflow. An intelligent and integrated Medical office has a seamless organization integrating its front office with the clinical treatment systems, using artificial intelligence (AI), and mobile connectivity. If phones can be smarter, why can’t your Medical office?

    Medical bracelets with GPS tracking are dual purpose: identification & tracking. These wearable devices can be extremely helpful for newborns and geriatric care.

    Medical mobile workstations are extremely helpful for remote care and may eventually become a standard feature of future bedside Medical essentials.

Promoting patient safety is a consideration that sets a Medical Interior Designer apart from regular interior design which you can read more here. Their expertise in specialized best design practices, industry standards, and available technologies will be a big help in making sure you are building a safe and healthy environment for your patients and staff. Start the conversation through a call or text for a free consultation about building a healing and high-performing medical space.

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