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Enhancing the Traditional Hospital Design Process: A Focus on Patient Safety

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Background: In 2002 St. Joseph's Community Hospital (West Bend, WI), a member of SynergyHealth, brought together leaders in health care and systems engineering to develop a set of safety-driven facility design principles that would guide the hospital design process.

Designing for Safety: Hospital leadership recognized that a cross-departmental team approach would be needed and formed the 11-member Facility Design Advisory Council, which, with departmental teams and the aid of architects, was responsible for overseeing the design process and for ensuring that the safety considerations were met. The design process was a team approach, with input from national experts, patients and families, hospital staff and physicians, architects, contractors, and the community.

Outcome: The new facility, designed using safety-driven design principles, reflects many innovative design elements, including truly standardized patient rooms, new technology to minimize falls, and patient care alcoves for every patient room. The new hospital has been designed with maximum adaptability and flexibility in mind, to accommodate changes and provide for future growth. The architects labeled the innovative design The Synergy Model, to describe the process of shaping the entire building and its spaces to work efficiently as a whole for the care and safety of patients.

Conclusion: Construction began on the new facility in August 2003 and is expected to be completed in 2005.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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