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Three Design Choices to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections

April 2015
Author: Lisa Ellis

Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) and other easily transmittable diseases are a serious concern in most facilities today. Implementing some of the latest best practices in your physical environment can help to minimize their impact—and help you get the best outcomes from your efforts.

When exploring design options that can help to prevent HAI and keep other infectious diseases from spreading, here are three key factors to consider:

  1. Location of sinks. The location of sinks in patient rooms can help, or hinder, your efforts to reduce the spread of infections. Some experts recommend placing the sink just inside the room so patients can see staff wash their hands as soon as they enter. Be sure to include splashguards, and to install the sink a safe distance from the bed to prevent droplets of water containing harmful microbes from spreading. In addition, place dispensers containing an alcohol-based hand cleanser at convenient sites throughout your facility to encourage regular use and keep dangerous germs from spreading.

  2. Furnishings. How your facility looks and how it functions on a day-to-day basis are certainly important factors to consider when it comes to choosing furnishings, floors coverings, and privacy curtains for patient rooms and shared spaces. But even more essential is selecting materials that are easy to clean, resistant to damage from strong cleaning solvents, and offer antimicrobial properties that can help to protect patients.

  3. Air quality. One of the ways infections can spread is through the air, so installing safe air handling systems is essential. Proper ventilation and filtration, along with access to designated isolation rooms that don’t share air with other spaces, are key to your efforts.

The good news is that when you take the time to carefully plan your space as part of your overall strategy to keep germs from spreading, you can create aesthetically pleasing patient rooms and units that also help your staff and patients stay safe.


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