Effective surgical spaces can’t be achieved in a vacuum. “The most successful design solutions are those in which the users see their input in the final space,” says Scott Holmes, associate principal of medical planning at BWBR Architects. “Engaging key stakeholders, like surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nursing staff, early in the design process is essential to creating such ownership and creates the biggest opportunities for innovation.”

FreemanWhite prefers running these groups as two separate tracks for the clinical team and the technical/building operations group, the former of which helps to determine the room layout, basic parameters, and uses, and the latter focusing on the nuts and bolts—for example, which boom has which gases, explains FreemanWhite Principal Brian Adams.

“Some would assert that it’s better to have all parties take part in every meeting,” he says, “but we find that speed of delivery improves when there are separate clinical and technical meetings, and those individuals can avoid spending time on discussions that aren’t as relevant to their roles.”

But beyond regular planning and design review meetings, Sherry Gaumond, Larson & Darby’s director of interior design, recommends 3-D modeling to review elements like colors, materials, and lighting as well as building full-size mockups.

“Few endeavors will engage surgeons more than the hands-on activity of simulating in mock-up space,” adds David Meek, an associate at Shepley Bulfinch. Testing in these flexible spaces for different techniques, teams, and configuration ensures that surgeons will be comfortable using their new spaces upon completion. It’s very important to include surgical equipment and the comprehensive surgical team during these exercises to validate room size, device placement, and room orientation.”

During a mock-up session, FreemanWhite will have clinical team members stand in position, as if they were performing surgery, with the designers confirming that everyone can see and access the equipment they need. “We run through the entire sequence of simulated procedures to capture specific needs at different times,” Adams says.

For more on designing surgery spaces, see “OR Designs That Are Ready For The Cutting Edge” at http://healthcaredesi.wpengine.com/article/or-designs-ready-for-cutting-edge.


Barbara Horwitz-Bennett is a contributing editor for Healthcare Design. She can be reached at bbennett@bezeqint.net.