Patient Room Lighting

Posted on February 16, 2011


I was going through some old conference notes and presentations in an effort to clean up my desk, and came across this good one on patient lighting from PDC 2009.  It is a white paper and Power Point from Denise Fong of Candela Lighting Design and Consulting, and here are the highlights:


“Research shows that we not only prefer daylight but actually heal faster when we have access to it.  Healthcare providers report higher job satisfaction when they have access to daylight.”

Daylight Considerations

“The amount of daylight that is available in the patient room is subject to many variables…From a strictly daylighting perspective, having the restroom near the interior core is preferable as it maximizes the window wall opportunities…If workflow is examined in the Lean process, the restrooms are typically pushed outboard to reduce nurse travel time…With ceiling heights at a standard 8′, daylight penetration is about half the depth of the room.  Raising the ceiling to 10′ brings the daylight the full depth of the room…In an ideal world, all patient rooms would face north and then all daylight would be diffuse and patients would never be bothered by the glare and heat of direct sun…True southern orientations can be controlled passively if the building design includes light shelves, overhangs or other devices that interrupt the sun’s direct rays.  East and west orientations can sometimes be controlled passively with vertical louvers but in general they will require active controls.”

Shading Considerations

“In the healthcare environment horizontal surfaces where dust can accumulate must be minimized so the shading device of choice is usually roll-down shades…Motorized shades can be controlled from the bed paddle.  In addition to increasing patient satisfaction with the room, motorized shades also reduce the frequency of nurse call requests to close the shadees, from patients who are bed ridden and do not have family with them.”

Electric Lighting Considerations

“The electric lighting system must balance the patient’s desire for residential quality lighting and the staff need for higher light levels for some procedures.  Lighting must be considered for the patient zone, staff zone and family zone…Older patients also tend to be more sensitive to glare than younger patients…General illumination from an indirect source will be soft and relaxing with little to no glare.  This is optimal for any type of patient room and is often sufficient for reading light.  A higher level of reading light is provided in a task area that is focused on a small area near the head of the bed…LED sources are starting to become available which may answer the short life and inefficiency concerns of the halogen sources and the lack of control and glare concerns of the fluorescent sources…An exam light over the bed, controlled by staff, is necessary in case a procedure needs to be done in the room.  One hundred footcandles at the bed is the IES recommended light level.  While it’s not possible to eliminate glare and achieve the high light levels required, there are options for shielding and locating the fixtures to minimize the glare…

There are many options to provide this light.  It is typically fluorescent but we expect LED options to be available in the near future and as with the reading light, they have the potential to provide high light levels with reduced glare and better controllability…If charting is done in the room, a small task light can facilitate charting when theh room is dark, without disturbing the patient.  LED sources are ideal for this…Depending on the physical configuration of the room, an additional light at the hand washing sink is often necessary.  This is typically a compact fluorescent source but as the cost of LEDs goes down and the efficiency and quality go up, they will become more common…In the family zone there is a place for a family member to sleep or read and often there is a small desk to write or use a computer.  A local light that can be controlled nearby creates the desired residential quality.”

Controls Considerations

“Controls are the design element that makes the connection between electric light and daylight…In an ideal world, every light in the room would be dimmable, but that is rarely possible due to both budget and maintenance concerns…As more LED product becomes available, dimming will be easier to achieve as LEDs lend themselves to dimming without added cost or complexity.  Patient bed paddle control of lighting should include the reading light, the general illumination and the window blinds if they are motorized.  A three-way control for the general illumination is recommended so that caregivers also have control of this light source…A small panel the size of a single gang switch plate can provide preset controls for typical room uses that can be defined by the user group and reconfigured if the room use changes without rewiring the room.  This would be a benefit in multiple acuity rooms.”

Posted in: Interior Design