The debate over same-handed rooms

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There is a debate in healthcare over the efficiency and safety advances of same-handed rooms versus the additional cost in construction.  Traditionally, room designs – whether patient rooms, exam rooms, procedure rooms or even surgical suites – have been laid out using mirror arrangement for every two rooms.  This was done so the services (water, electrical, data, gas, etc.) could share a common chase between the two rooms.  It was cost saving during construction.  On the other side, patient safety, nursing proficiency, and lean design all had gains when the rooms are same handed.

When you think about it, it makes sense;

  • From a nursing perspective, if the supply you need is always in the top drawer on the right side, you work more efficiently and in turn, patient safety improves.
  • In surgery, think how more efficient a surgeon would be if the supply and technology is always in the same place – no matter what room they are in.  Once again, patient safety would improve.

We could go on and on about the advantages of same handed rooms; but in reality, the additional cost has left this concept on the drawing board.  Unfortunately, in the past there has not been enough research to show empirical evidence upon which to base a change.

So where does this leave us?  This subject is back on the hot list, and therefore, studies are currently underway.  Over the next couple of years, studies will continue to be published.  I am betting that when efficiency is quantified, there will be a strong case for same-handed rooms; but until the studies are finished and published, we are left to debate the merit of both.

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With a passion for solving problems, Chris has been in management, marketing and sales in the healthcare market for over 25 years.