Facility Design May Have an Impact on Human Error in Hospitals


When most people consider the type of care they’ll receive at a hospital, they look to the qualifications of the doctors and nurses or the access to cutting-edge medical equipment. However, one thing that virtually no one thinks of is the design of the facility itself, which is a huge oversight according to scientific research that suggests facility design may have an impact on human error in hospitals.

In this article, we explore the research and discuss how you can utilize design strategies to effectively reduce the possibility of human error.

How Can Hospital Design Promote Human Error?

So you’re probably wondering, how can the design of a building actually lead to human error? While the answer could easily be covered by volumes of books on human psychology and cognitive ability, it would suffice to say that a confusing or unintuitive design lends itself more to cultivating erroneous behavior. This could be something as simple as designing patient room doorways that are wide enough for hospital beds to fit through so patients don’t have to be taken off the bed and transported by other means.

Another common design flaw is lighting. Having adequate lighting in treatment areas is important for doctors and medical professionals to diagnose and treat patients accurately.

Designing to Reduce Human Error in Hospitals

One way to design your hospital so it reduces the risk of human error is to create a well-organized and intuitive facility. Wide hallways, for example, make it easy for many different people and equipment to be moved without causing a blockage. Double automatic doors are also helpful for allowing patients to be moved in their beds from one section of the hospital to another.

Another important factor of design includes standardization, which can improve efficiency. Having rooms with a standardized layout and keeping medical supplies and equipment in the same places means that staff will be able to find exactly what they need no matter which room they’re in.

Facility Design

Designing with HDPE

Choosing materials for your hospital is almost as important as choosing the design plans. For many, the invention of high-density polyethylene has created a new standard for health-conscious building materials.

In addition to resisting dents and rust, HDPE is easy to clean and resistant to bacteria—big news for healthcare facilities. What’s more is that the durability of HDPE helps to keep annual operational costs low. Plus, many HDPE materials are LEED certified, so you can rest assured knowing that they’re safe for your staff and your patients.

HDPE is used in a variety of applications, but it’s most commonly used for lockers, bathroom partitions, vanities, and changing compartments within the healthcare industry.

To learn more about HDPE and bacteria in your hospital, check out this blog post: How Your Hospital Locker Rooms Could Be a Breeding Ground for Bacteria.