Letter to the Editor
Thank you so very much for your September 2010 interview as a preview to our Evidence-Based Design (EBD) Furniture Checklist presentation at the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.10 conference. We were delighted to share with
HEALTHCARE DESIGN magazine readers the background and development process for the checklist as a means to entice them to attend our session. It clearly seemed to work, since we had standing room only when we presented on Sunday, November 14.
However, we were very surprised by the furniture photos that were added to the magazine article because, although they are striking in design, each pictured piece of furniture represents exactly what is not appropriate in a healthcare setting for a variety of reasons-the very point of the research and standards-based variables on our checklist.
The linear lines of the sculptural chairs with their many nooks and crannies shown on the title page would prove challenging to clean and would not provide the small, flexible groupings which can be easily adjusted to accommodate a varying number of individuals to further communication and social support. The chair shown on page 26 would also be very challenging to clean in order to reduce surface contamination that provides a reservoir of organisms, which can lead to healthcare-associated infections and would be very difficult to rise from because of the lack of armrests, the posterior tilt of the seat, and seat back recline-making patients potentially vulnerable to falls and associated injuries. While we can easily imagine the sofa on page 28 in someone's home or in a hotel, it would have limited practicality in a healthcare environment because of its large footprint, lack of configurability, and armrests at each seat. At the end of the day, hospitals are not hotels.
As a result of the research we conducted to create an EBD Furniture Checklist, we have concluded that furniture plays an important role in the delivery of quality care across the entire healthcare continuum, representing something far more than just an overhead or sunk cost.
We do not want HEALTHCARE DESIGN magazine readers to think that we were endorsing the design features of the furniture pictured in the interview article. Rather, we encourage them to think about and evaluate furniture just as they would any built environment, technology, or equipment feature using proven EBD science and industry standards to achieve the best healthcare outcomes, which ultimately represent the best investment.
Mercury Healthcare Consulting, LLC
Health Care Interiors, East Coast, HDR, Inc. Healthcare Design 2011 January;11(1):11