Researchers Improve Medical Units to Reduce Nursing Fatigue

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ITHACA, N.Y.—In hospitals, poor floor design, storage closet clutter and crowded corridors can contribute to nurse and medical staff fatigue. These distractions can hurt patient care quality and result in higher medical costs.

Now, a new Cornell University study offers a spatial solution.

Rana Zadeh, Cornell assistant professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology, analyzed the floor plans and work patterns within five medical-surgical units at U.S. hospitals and found numerous opportunities to boost nurses’ efficiency through better design. Zadeh’s research, “Rethinking Efficiency in Acute Care Nursing Units: Analyzing Nursing Unit Layout for Improved Spatial Flow," is published in the current issue of Health Environments Research and Design Journal (6:1).

In some hospital wards, important spaces such as nourishment rooms are located far away from a nurse’s typical path. Jammed patient-care corridors create excessive noise, and high foot traffic raises the potential for interruptions. Supplies are stocked in various rooms, leading nurses to “hunt and gather" to find materials.

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