Designing a Patient Room as a Fall Protection Strategy: The Perspectives of Healthcare Design Experts

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 19;18(16):8769. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168769.


Despite decades of research into patient falls, there is a dearth of evidence about how the design of patient rooms influences falls. Our multi-year study aims to better understand how patient room design can increase stability during ambulation, serving as a fall protection strategy for frail and/or elderly patients. The aim of this portion of the study was to ascertain the architect's perspective on designing a room to mitigate the risk of falls, as well as to evaluate the face validity of a predictive algorithm to assess risk in room design using the input of a design advisory council (AC). The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the design process and decision-making for patient rooms; summarize the impressions of industry experts about the configurations and layout of the patient rooms tested in a preliminary augmented reality model; establish the face validity of modeled heat maps depicting risk; and report the results of a pre-meeting and post-meeting survey of expert opinions. Feedback was coded using human factors/ergonomic (HF/E) design principles, and the findings will be used to guide further development of an "optimal" prototype room for human subject testing. The results confirm the challenges that architects face as they balance competing priorities and reveal how a participatory process focusing on preventing falls can shift assumptions about design strategies, especially subtle changes (e.g., toilet orientation).

Keywords: augmented reality; evidence-based design; falls; frail/elderly; patient room; risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Aged
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Patients' Rooms*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires