Impact of Poor Design on Patients

We came across this interesting article on the link between design in hospitals and the impact on the patients and their recovery.

The British Medical Association is calling on healthcare organisations to prioritise design in all future building projects. A new report presents research showing that the architectural environment can significantly affect patients’ recovery times. In contrast, poorly designed hospitals and surgeries can cause anxiety, delirium, high blood pressure and increased use of painkillers, it says.  The report, The Psychological and Social Needs of Patients, published this month, consolidates many pieces of research that underline the link between design and patient recovery.

It was welcomed by John Cooper, chairman of Architects for Health, who intends to contact the BMA to show how better design could save the NHS money in the medium term.  “I will demonstrate that if you embody these findings into your design it might cost you a bit more but in revenue terms you will make savings after three to five years,” he said.

Alistair Cory, principal of health specialist NBBJ, said: “It’s great that an organisation like the BMA is not just recognising the importance of good design but shouting about it.

“I hope the report will encourage the appointment of someone senior on the client side as a design champion who can fight for the cause. We have found that to be critical.”

The report’s recommendations include eliminating long corridors because nurses can spend up to 40% of their time walking instead of caring for patients. It also warns that patients should not be overcrowded and should have a variety of spacious, quiet, well-lit and well-ventilated spaces with pleasant views. Researchers found patients hospitalised for depression stayed an average of 3.7 days fewer if they were assigned east-facing rooms exposed to morning light, compared to patients in west-facing rooms with less sunlight.

The report said: “Healthcare building design should extend beyond functional efficiency, marketing and cost. It should promote wellness by creating physical surroundings that are psychologically supportive…

“There is a developing evidence base on the psychosocial, and physical costs of not meeting [patient’s] needs, and on the positive effects of changing the way in which we care, and the environment in which we offer care.”

Good evidence that designing for people and understanding the physical and psychological response to that design can really pay dividends. 



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