Designing Safe Intensive Care Units of the Future

  • P. Barach
  • M. Potter Forbes
  • I. Forbes


Hospitals, clinics, and other health buildings occupy a unique place in our sensibilities. They are safe havens for the care and treatment of the sick, but they are also dynamic, challenging, and risky environments marked by high levels of stress and fragmentation in the continuity of care. Complexity is manifest in patient and treatment protocols, in the interdisciplinary coordination and hand-offs between providers, the interdependence of humans and technology, the large volumes of information required for decision making, and the residual uncertainty associated with these decisions. It is widely acknowledged that the physical environment has a significant impact on health and safety. However, innovation in the design of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) has not been done with the goal of enhancing patient safety or improving the quality of care, as these aspects were presumed to be implicit in the clinical practice of the facility.


Intensive Care Unit Patient Safety Patient Room Reverberation Time Fall Injury 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Suggested Reading

  1. Benedetti F, Colombo C et al (2001) Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression. J Affect Disord 62(3):221–223CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Darwin M, Wowk B (2008) The intensive care unit of the future. In: Crippen D (ed) End of life communication in the ICU. Springer, New York, pp 145–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dickerman K, Barach P (2008) Designing the built environment for a culture and system of patient safety — A conceptual, new design process. In: Henriksen K, Battles JB, Keyes MA, Grady ML, (Eds) Advances in patient safety: New directions and alternative approaches, Vol 2, Culture and Redesign. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD, AHRQ Publication No. 08-0034-2Google Scholar
  4. Dickerman K, Nevo I, Barach P (2005) Incorporating patient-safe design into the design guidelines. American Institute of Architecture Journal Oct 7Google Scholar
  5. Gerteis M, Edgman-Levitan S, Daley J, Delbanco T (eds) (1993) Through the patient’s eyes: Understanding and promoting patient-centered care. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  6. Hamilton DK (ed) (2000) ICU 2010: ICU design for the future, a critical care design symposium. Center for Innovation in Health Facilities, HoustonGoogle Scholar
  7. Hagerman I, Rasmanis G, Blomkvist V, Ulrich R, Anne Eriksen C, Theorell T (2005) Influence of intensive coronary care acoustics on the quality of care and physiological state of patients. Int J Cardiol 98(2):267–270CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Institute of Medicine (2000) To err is human: Building a safer health system. Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS (eds) National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  9. Klevens RM, Edwards JR, Richards CL et al (2007) Estimating health care-associated infections and deaths in US hospitals, 2002. PHR 122:160–166PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Noskin GA, Peterson LR (2003) Engineering infection control through facility design. Emerg Infect Dis 3:18–26Google Scholar
  11. Ulrich R, Zimring C, Quan X, Joseph A, Choudhary R (2004) The role of the physical environment in the hospital of the 21st century: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PrincetonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Barach
    • 1
  • M. Potter Forbes
    • 2
  • I. Forbes
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUtrecht Medical CenterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Injury Risk Management Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSidneyAustralia
  3. 3.Health Facilities, DesignInc.University of TechnologySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of Design Architecture and BuildingUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations