5 ICU room design strategies for patient safety

In an acute care hospital, the intensive care unit staff must effectively use specialized equipment, while making split-second decisions pertaining to the care of a large number of medically fragile patients. Optimizing the space for efficiency and safety can help drive successful care outcomes and support a satisfactory experience for patients and families.

A research team from The Center for Health Design conducted a detailed literature review to assess ICU room layouts and design. The team reviewed 18 different design features. On Thursday, key considerations from the study were published online in Healthcare Design Magazine.

Here are five design recommendations for optimizing the ICU.

1. Layout: Ensure room clearances include adequate space for the movement of medical equipment, wheelchairs and furniture. Creating a room large enough to absorb additional functions as time moves forward can ensure functionality in the long-term.

2. Storage: Equip the space with adequate storage for devices and common medical supplies like linens and medications. Make sure often used supplies are located near the patient to promote efficiency. Use size, color and texture to distinguish storage spaces for medical supplies.

3. Lighting: Provide enough lighting between the bed and bathroom to reduce the likelihood of patient falls. Also, sufficient lighting in the medication prep zone can allow providers to better check patient arm bands to ensure proper care delivery.

4. Noise reduction: Cut into the innate cacophony of the ICU with equipment and technologies designed to mask noise. Also, providing patients access to music to cover the noise of the ICU is a good way to reduce stress levels.

5. Family zone layout: Situate family space in the line-of-sight of providers to facilitate inclusion into the care conversation. Also, position furniture out of the way of the caregiver zone in an area that allows visitors to see and hear the TV without disturbing the patient. Furniture should also be in place to allow visitors to make physical contact with the patient when desired.

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