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  • Jenna Augustine

Emergency Department Medical Equipment Planning Considerations

Whether planning a new greenfield hospital or expanding an existing facility, medical equipment planning is a critical component of a well-designed emergency department. Equipment planners work closely with the design team and clinicians to identify adjacency requirements and clinical workflow parameters in order to create the best possible environment for emergency care. Below find a summary of equipment planning considerations for emergency departments.

Easily Accessible Storage Areas

Storage is extremely important in ED design. Key pieces of equipment must be easily and quickly accessible. Alcove storage is crucial for mobile equipment, such as vital signs monitors, bladder scanners, and ultrasound machines. Additionally, clean supply rooms need adequate space and maximized shelving for IV supplies, linen, and other disposables. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlighted the need for space to house ventilator equipment.

Understand Relationship Between Staffing and Equipment

Many healthcare clients often make the mistake of addressing operational issues by purchasing additional equipment. For example, hospitals may purchase an additional CT scanner to improve throughput in their ED, only to realize that what was needed was additional staff to maximize the usage of the existing CT scanner.

Point of Care Equipment Location

Another critical component of medical equipment planning for emergency departments is the location of the point-of-care equipment such as blood gas analyzers and urinalysis units, which provide quick test results for patients waiting for answers to their illnesses. Facilities will want to consider if there is enough room for these at the Nurse Station, typically a high traffic area, or if point-of-care alcoves are needed with dedicated undercounter refrigerators for reagents.

Patient Treatment Room Layout and Storage

Patient treatment rooms and bays should have the necessary equipment in close proximity, such as a patient monitor, cart, and medical gases. Though, these areas should not be overcrowded, ensuring medical staff can properly react in the event of an emergency; further reinforcing the importance of available storage in every area of an emergency department.

Determine Number of Resuscitation Rooms Early in Design Process

The number of resuscitation rooms is often a central topic in every ED project due in large part to the complexity and cost of the equipment required. These rooms require a surgical boom and additional mechanical, electrical and plumbing/gas hook ups. This is a decision that must be made early in the design process, as it requires drawing coordination among the trades. Many clients decide to add a resuscitation room later in the design process, only to incur significant project cost increases due to the rework required to accommodate the necessary infrastructure.

Identify Relationship with Imaging Department

While planning for a hospital, it is important to determine whether the ED will have a dedicated Imaging Department for ultrasound technology, CT scans, X-ray machines to treat patients, or will it send patients to the hospital’s centralized Imaging Department. Imaging facilities, similar to resuscitation rooms, require similar coordination from architects and construction workers. Also, since emergency department personnel do not operate this machinery, remember to include imaging clinicians in design discussions.

Equipment Reuse

Whether the project is new construction, or a renovation, identify equipment that can be re-used or early in the design process. Consider having your equipment planner conduct a thorough inventory of your existing emergency department prior to developing your equipment budget that includes an end-of-useable-life estimate for each item of equipment. Significant budget savings can be obtained by reusing equipment.

A medical equipment planner has the knowledge and expertise to assist in this critical area of the hospital and can provide equipment options to maximize the space in the emergency department and support the clinical staff so they can serve their patients safely and efficiently.

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