Designing For Cleaner Hospitals

Designing For Cleaner Hospitals

Hospitals can make you more sick than healthy bacause of bacteria on poorly cleaned surfaces. Design can help make cleaning easier with simpler more modular products.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 1 march 2010

A followup to our story on Friday about healthcare and design innovation. Besides overhauling healthcare insurance in the US, there may need to be hospital insurance. @issue recently reported findings from a US government estimate that one in ten hospital patients catch a hospital-borne infection. Those illnesses contribute to about 90,000 deaths in the US annually. And studies have shown that one-third of these infections are considered preventable. How? With thorough sanitizing of surfaces as a start.

This is where design plays a role. For the past two years, the UK Department of Health and National Health Service has been working with the UK Design Council on ways to improve patient care. Their 2008 campaign “Design Bugs Out” partnered health care experts and microbiologists with designers to identify areas within hospitals that needed improvement. Ten design briefs were created from the findings. The Design Council sponsored national competitions for the design of furniture and larger equipment with prize money awarded for prototype development.


PearsonLloyd, who we’ve seen can produce some beautiful looking furniture submitted winning designs for a patient chair and a commode. Both of these concepts show a great depth of problem solving and design being more than just pretty shapes. The patient chair has a high back that offers the patient support. The chair has three cushions that are easily removable for cleaning. The main structure of the chair has few hard angles and can be easily scrubbed. The base has a combination of legs and casters that provide stability but also make the chair easier to move.


The commode is a smart and simple design that manages to address a long list of issues including functionality, comfort, cost of replacement parts, and the dignity of the user. The commode was inspired by the design of a porter chair and meant to dispel the impression that the patient is being wheeled about on a toilet  It is a modular design with components that can easily be assembled or taken apart without any fasteners. The seat is molded in polypropylene and can stand up to sanitizing with chlorine bleach. The frame is made of smooth stainless steel that resists scratches where bacteria can grow. The pan is made from eco-friendly paper pulp. There is a lid which hooks on to the back of the chair to contain waste when taken away.

[via at issue]


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