Poignant new study sets new standard for patient rooms in the hospital
Fighting pathogens begins in the patient’s hospital room
Blueprint for infection prevention
M:IP should not be left to medical professionals alone. Disciplines such as architects, designers or biologists, must take on the challenge, too.
The precedent-setting research project unquestionably demonstrates that infection prevention in the hospital cannot solely rest on the shoulders of medical professionals: „Finding solutions for better controlling and fighting infections should not be left to one isolated group of experts,“ agrees the KARMIN project’s principal investigator and architect, Wolfgang Sunder, PhD, from the Institute of Construction Design, Industrial and Health Care Building (IKE) at Technische Universität Braunschweig (TU Braunschweig). „Rather, such undertaking requires the insight and expertise of an interdisciplinary team of experts from various professions and fields of study.“
Interdisciplinary team of experts designs prototype
Indeed, a team of architects, designers, medical professionals and molecular biologists from TU Braunschweig and Charité Berlin was the first to identify risk factors of infection transmission in a hospital room across disciplines. Together, they designed the optimal floor plan and outfitted the room with the best-possible equipment to all but eliminate contamination with dangerous pathogens.
In particular, hygiene hinges on people’s activities in the hospital room: patients’ behaviour, how workflows guide staff around the room, where and how visitors stay in the room and how the room is cleaned and disinfected. Consequently, any object in the KARMIN prototype room that touches the ground is movable so it can easily be moved during cleaning, to name one example.
Workflows and hand disinfection
KARMIN dispensers are strategically placed to promote hand disinfection
The patient room’s wholesome design
„Healing Architecture“ — designed with wellbeing in mind
Not just the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light what has long been evident: A future-proof hospital room must protect people in close proximity to one another against pathogens and has to be adaptable to the situation at hand. „A modern patient room,“ Sunder says, „is subject to quickly and constantly changing circumstances, which depend on medical advancements, societal demands, and progress in the fields of architecture and construction.“ One of the biggest challenges were the rise of infections and multi-resistant germs, demographic changes, innovations in medical technology, new treatments and the change in patients expectations.
Floor plan and interior design support physical and mental health
Healing architecture considers the needs and conditions of patients during illness, the stresses of hospitalisation, as well as the recovery and healing process. Floor plan and interior design support the physical and emotional wellbeing of patients and their families. The flow of the room as well as furniture and equipment are designed to optimise staff’s workflows, make them simpler, easier.
The KARMIN hospital room represents an indicatory example of healing architecture. Goal of the project was to design a room that effectively eliminates cross-contamination with pathogens between doctors, nurses, patients and cleaning staff.
Infection-proof design must be adaptable
KARMIN project leader architect Wolfgang Sunder, PhD
The ideal two-bed patient room
KARMIN researchers interviewed experts as well as the various types of users of a hospital room. The team took sample swabs of surfaces and objects, such as door knobs and sinks. Even swabs of the patients’ body were taken. At the same time, the interdisciplinary team analysed workflows and routes of nurses, doctors and cleaning staff in the room. One conclusion, for instance, was that pathogens are most often transmitted between the cohabiting patients when doctors and nurses interact with one patient while treating the other, for instance, if that patient calls a nurse over to his or her bed for help.
Based on the new insights and analysis, the team developed requirements for an infection-proof patient room, including the bathroom. „The KARMIN patient room represents the first prototype of a two-bed room with two bathrooms, designed, furnished and equipped to adequately prevent infections. It was also the first prototype an interdisciplinary team of researchers was able to plan, realise and analyse,“ project leader Sunder says.
Specifically, the solution includes a thoroughly considered, specially zoned room layout, innovative furnishings and features, such as BODE/HARTMANN’s disinfectant dispenser Eurospender 3 flex at the foot of the beds, the nightstand, the bedside terminal displaying innovative content with targeted informational campaigns for the patient, plus, last but not least, a well-thought-out lighting concept.
Infection-proof KARMIN two-bed patient room
The floor plan
Intuitive disinfection, easy cleaning
The innovation lies in the details
Virtual patient education and empowerment
No nooks or grooves where germs could hide
Everything on hand for intuitive infection prevention
Open, inviting and easy to disinfect
Specially developed by TU Braunschweig
Dangerous multi-resistant pathogens lurk in the bathroom
Unobstructed view of the patients
Spotlight on hygiene
Vision: The infection-proof patient room as positive place to heal and unbend
New insights inspire advancements
HARTMANN was part of the network of industry partners supporting the KARMIN project, which took several months to complete. In late 2020, a prototype was installed on the campus of Charité Berlin, giving experts and the public the opportunity to explore the KARMIN hospital room and provide constructive feedback. Moving forward with the project, the researchers are set on continually expanding and optimising the concept.
The current pandemic will provide researchers additional new insights, allowing them to approach healing architecture from yet another new perspective. At this point, the KARMIN project has revealed evidence and set a new standard for sensibly planning hospital rooms of the future — far from a scary place where the invisible risk of infection lures in every corner but rather a highly functional and comfortable place of wellbeing and coming together.
Das Patientenzimmer — Planung und Gestaltung
Accompanying book on the KARMIN research project [in German]
In November 2020, KARMIN project leader Wolfgang Sunder, PhD, et al. released the book about planning and designing the exemplary KARMIN hospital room (in German language): Das Patientenzimmer – Planung und Gestaltung.
The publication for medical professionals and architects presents the planning parameters and introduces 25 examples. What’s more, the book includes scientific floor plan analyses of 25 hospital rooms around the world, based on infection research.