10 New Designs Every Safe Hospital Should Have!

Earlier this year, the British National Health System (NHS) challenged the independent Design Council in Great Britain to clean up the hospitals.  In a program called Design Bugs Out, British designers took their shots at designing and prototyping furniture and equipment that is easy to keep clean; the object being to reduce hospital-related infections.

Four designers teamed up with British manufacturers.  They were provided considerable research on patient and healthcare needs and had direct input from a panel of the UK’s most respected experts in the fields of design, healthcare, microbiology, nursing and patient care who proposed specific objects that could reduce a patient's exposure to heathcare associated infections.

Here are 10 of the design prototypes that Designed Bugs Out and are now visiting several of Britain's large hospitals for display and discussion.


1. Patient Chair Design

Designer: PearsonLloyd, Manufacturer: Kirton Healthcare

Not the farthest thing from what a patient chair looks or acts like, in the U.S., but far, very far.  Not only does every single part of the chair remove for washing or cleaning, but the chair is designed for patient comfort!   Yes, it has a gas lift and tilt handle so that patients can adjust height and back tilt to their correct ergonomic setting.





2.  Porter's Chair Design

Designer: Minima, Manufacturer: Vernacare

You can tell this chair is going to be clean just by looking at it; so easy to wash down with so few parts and no seams to collect dirt.  And the chair design makes it easier to get in and out of, as well as easier to handle than a typical hospital wheelchair.  Nice space for personal belongings, ergonomic footrest, and slide-out leg rests under the chair.




3.  Intelligent Mattress Design

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

The mattress cover on the Intelligent Mattress is waterproof, made up of three layers: a transparent polyurethane on top, a layer of hydrochromic ink, and an inner layer of nylon knit.  The inner core of the mattress is foam.  If the cover is penetrated by anything sharp, such as a hypodermic needle, the cover will change color alerting the hospital staff that it and the foam mattress have become contaminated.   




4.  Patient's Bedside Cabinet Design

Designer: Kinneir Dufort, Manufacturer: Bristol Maid

This ingenious design makes cleaning a breeze, as all surfaces are accessible, even from the rear... the frame is reversible!  And an RFID key on the patient's wristband makes his belongings more secure too.






5.  Patient Commode Design

Designer: PearsonLloyd, Manufacturer: Kirton Healthcare

Not realizing at first this was a commode design, I assumed it was a chair.  You can't say that about too many patient commodes.  So, immediately you notice its dignity, a rare quality in any piece of hospital equipment.  And it also looks comfortable, relatively.  But of course it's the cleanliness factor we're after and that, my dear, is copesthetic.  Take a look below!





Storage?  Not a problem...



6.  Hygienic Blood Pressure Cuff

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

Fabric and Velcro pick up all kinds of germs and they are hard to clean -- although I venture to say that cleaning blood pressure cuffs has not been a hospital priority.  But the designers at the Royal College of Art came up with a great idea: a waterproof shell and magnetic closures.



The illustration to the right shows how the "sandwich," with the inflatable bladder in the center, is put together.




7.  Pulse Oximeter Design

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

The pulse oximeter measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.  The most comfortable way to do this for the patient is to check the pressure in his fingertip with a wired clip.  The measure is then sent to a monitor for the healthcare worker to read.  The problem is that the finger clip is used by many patients and it is difficult to clean, presenting an opportunity for cross contamination.  So by reducing the number of parts and encapsulating the oxygen sensors in silicone, the designers made an easy to clean pulse oximeter.




8.  Cannula Time Tracker Design

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

The cannula is the "needle" or, more aptly "tube," that is inserted, usually in a vein in your hand, for intravenous fluids.  As the entry spot is often a source of pain and can be a source of infection, there is need for a reliable source of information regarding exactly when the cannula needs to be changed. The Cannula Time Tracker relies on the Timestrip® technology to monitor how long the cannula has been in.




9.  Patient Wipe Dispenser

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

Here's a way for a patient to keep the hand-wipes near.  A dispenser on a well-designed clip fits on almost anything around, from tables to cabinets to bed rails.  And, of course, the package is recyclable.




10.  Curtain Clip Design

Design: Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art

If you have curtains in your home, you know what dust collectors they are.  Imagine what hospital curtains collect with everyone handling them all day -- dust and germs!  Again a simple device, in this case a magnetised handle made of an easily cleaned plastic is a step toward a cleaner hospital environment.



The buzz is that the British Health Services department is being cheered for encouraging the great design talent and manufacturing skills in its own country to solve a growing problem in Britain's hospitals: healthcare associated infections.  In addition to manufacturing jobs, this program and those like it will eventually lead to sales jobs, customer service, and transportation jobs so needed in these times.

Richard Seymour, Chair of the judges and one of the UK’s most respected and influential designers, said: ‘This is the probably the most important thing these designers will do this year – or perhaps in their entire career. It’s a unique opportunity to genuinely affect lives and to leave a lasting legacy, which will continue to help protect people’s health for years to come. Britain needs more projects like this.’

Design Council via HES


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