Designing these structures requires a delicate balance of technical requirements with the needs of doctors and patients, but when done right, these designs can save lives. Studies conducted within the last decade have found the link between facility design and patient safety and staff outcomes. These include; patient and staff satisfaction; a patient’s stress experience, and organization performance metrics. Health care providers and design firms have taken the opportunity to target clinical latent conditions and active failures by using evidence-based designs in order to decrease distractions, standardize locations of equipment and supplies, and ensure adequate space for documentation and work areas.
KEY TERMS: As defined by the Ministry of Health, latent conditions are physical conditions on, underlying or adjacent to the site that could not be identified by the contractor by reasonable observations or investigations. Latent failures are attributed to people who influence the system; for example, housekeeping, maintenance, information systems and management. Active failures are errors made by the operators performing the processes; for example, actions by a doctor, nurse or any other direct caregiver.
Universal access, simple way-finding, safety, privacy and confidentiality are high priorities for both staff and patients. Lighting, low noise levels, comfortable temperatures and welcoming interiors are also valued by both groups.