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Postgraduate Education Corner: Contemporary Reviews in Critical Care Medicine |

Innovative Designs for the Smart ICUInnovative Designs for the Smart ICU: Part 2: Part 2: The ICU

Neil A. Halpern, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY.

Correspondence to: Neil A. Halpern, MD, FCCP, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Ave, New York, NY 10065; e-mail: halpernn@mskcc.org


Funding/Support: This work was funded by the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;145(3):646-658. doi:10.1378/chest.13-0004
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Successfully designing a new ICU requires clarity of vision and purpose and the recognition that the patient room is the core of the ICU experience for patients, staff, and visitors. The ICU can be conceptualized into three components: the patient room, central areas, and universal support services. Each patient room should be designed for single patient use and be similarly configured and equipped. The design of the room should focus upon functionality, ease of use, healing, safety, infection control, communications, and connectivity. All aspects of the room, including its infrastructure; zones for work, care, and visiting; environment, medical devices, and approaches to privacy; logistics; and waste management, are important elements in the design process. Since most medical devices used at the ICU bedside are really sophisticated computers, the ICU needs to be capable of supporting the full scope of medical informatics. The patient rooms, the central ICU areas (central stations, corridors, supply rooms, pharmacy, laboratory, staff lounge, visitor waiting room, on-call suite, conference rooms, and offices), and the universal support services (infection prevention, finishings and flooring, staff communications, signage and wayfinding, security, and fire and safety) work best when fully interwoven. This coordination helps establish efficient and safe patient throughput and care and fosters physical and social cohesiveness within the ICU. A balanced approach to centralized and decentralized monitoring and logistics also offers great flexibility. Synchronization of the universal support services in the ICU with the hospital’s existing systems maintains unity of purpose and continuity across the enterprise and avoids unnecessary duplication of efforts.

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