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How to design your ICU: 4 Points to keep in mind

  • Highlights

  • Determine the number of beds required

  • Place operation, and emergency rooms together

  • Dedicated entry point

  • ASHRAE standard for HVAC system

With an estimated availability of approximately 70,000 ICU beds across hospitals and nursing homes in India catering to nearly 5 million patients requiring ICU admissions each year, the country is in need of more ICU units and beds.
Yet another concern is protecting patients from infections. A study published in the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine, covering 15 ICUs in private and government hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Rohtak, Hyderabad, and Pune found that most cases of ICU infection are from bacteria coming in from the ventilators. As one of the most highly sophisticated areas of your hospital/nursing home, it’s critical to design it with perfection to provide care of the highest order.

1. Know the number of beds required

Prior to designing your ICU, it’s essential to gauge the number of beds required. While a few number of beds may not cater to the growing number of patients, more beds may make it difficult to manage them. It has been found that efficiency in care gets affected once the number of beds in an ICU is over 12.
The Canadian Department of National Health and Welfare recommends the ideal number of beds in an ICU unit to be between 8 to 12. A sophisticated ICU bed can cost upwards of Rs.63,000 and the total cost of 8 such beds would be over Rs.5 lakh.

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2. Keep a minimum space of at least 150 sq. ft. between two beds

To facilitate patient care, the minimum space recommended between two ICU beds is 125-150 square feet. Additionally, there should be extra space for equipment storage, nursing station, toilet, etc.
For quick transfer and better care of patients, it’s essential to have your ICU built near operation, emergency, and trauma wards. While it should have only one entry and exit point, there should be emergency exit points as well.

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3. Design the floor plan accordingly

There are many factors that determine the design of the floor plan of your ICU. The floor plan should be designed keeping in mind:
- The number of patients to be admitted
- The number of staff and visitors accessing the ICU
- Need for support facility such as storage, clerical space, administrative requirements, etc.
Also, the monitoring system should be placed at comfortable heights for doctors and nurses.

4. Follow ASHRAE standards for HVAC system

The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC) system is another essential thing to keep in mind while designing the ICU. The air circulated must be safe and the central or specific air conditioning (AC) system has to be planned as per the standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
There should be a minimum of 6 air changes per hour and it’s recommended to have a dedicated AC unit filtering air to 99% purity.
A highly sophisticated area, the design of the ICU needs not only knowledge of the regulatory standards, but also special needs of patients as it has a direct impact on clinical results.

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