Evidence-based hospital design ultimately cuts costs

Gone are the days of the sprawling central nursing station.

Lake Health's TriPoint Medical Center in Concord, Ohio, features all single patient rooms with bedside computers and alcoves between rooms equipped with computers so nurses can update medical records and stay close to patients, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

New hospitals are not just slapped together anymore. Evidence-based design--or approaches that research has shown improve patient health, reduce medical mistakes and decrease staff injuries--now are factored into hospital construction projects. And the best evidence-based design can help people recover faster, increase employee well-being and efficiency, and save money.

In a seminal 1984 study in the journal Science, an environmental psychologist discovered that gallbladder surgery patients in rooms with views of nature were $500 less expensive to care for compared with 23 similar patients whose rooms faced a brick wall.

Light and nature will play an important role in the design of the University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, according to the hospital's vice president of patient services. Typically, due to the weight of the equipment, radiation therapy is stuck on ground floors in dark dreary places. The cancer hospital, which is slated to open next year, was designed so that patients who get radiation therapy can walk out into an area bathed in sunlight and see a "healing" garden.

While such design concepts can raise construction costs by up to 5 percent, they can cut operating expenses in other ways. A 2004 study in the American Journal of Critical Care found that when patients were switched from semiprivate to private rooms, medication errors dropped by 67 percent. In a 2002 study in the Health Care Design journal, when a hospital went to private rooms and decentralized nursing stations, falls were reduced by two-thirds.

To learn more:
- read the Cleveland Plain Dealer article

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