Enhancing the traditional hospital design process: a focus on patient safety

Jt Comm J Qual Saf. 2004 Mar;30(3):115-24. doi: 10.1016/s1549-3741(04)30013-4.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Hospital Design and Construction / standards*
  • Hospitals, Community*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Patients
  • Planning Techniques
  • Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Safety Management*
  • Wisconsin