Hospital professionals are always looking to improve the care they deliver and do so more efficiently. Many think standards are the answer, especially in patient room design. But a question quickly arises: Which approach—same-handed or mirror-image design—is better for patient safety and staff efficiency?
Why the debate? Mirror-image rooms like the one below share plumbing chases and medical gas and electrical lines. That’s efficient from an architectural point of view.
Even with this added cost, an increasing number of hospitals are choosing same-handed design. They’re doing because they believe that standardized same-handed design contributes to better process and workflow. Trouble is, there’s very little evidence to support this belief.
So the debate goes on. We think it’s a healthy debate because it focuses attention on the important role design plays in patient-room settings. It’s generating new research into the merits of same-handed versus mirror-image design, too.
This is all good, but in all the research and all the talk, let’s not lose sight of the people who deliver care. Too much standardizing in the name of efficiency—prescribing, for example, their approach (either left or right) to patients—may backfire if we don’t involve them in the discussion.
Photos 2 & 3 credit: HKS Architects