Effects of Nursing Unit Spatial Layout on Nursing Team Communication Patterns, Quality of Care, and Patient Safety

December 5, 2012


Studies investigating factors contributing to improved quality of care have found that effective team member communication is among the most critical and influential aspects in the delivery of quality care. Relatively little research has examined the role of the physical design of nursing units on communication patterns among care providers. Although the concept of decentralized unit design is intended to increase patient safety, reduce nurse fatigue, and control the noisy, chaotic, and crowded space associated with centralized nursing stations, until recently little attention has been paid to how such nursing unit designs affected communication patterns or other medical and organizational outcomes. Using a pre/post research design comparing more centralized or decentralized unit designs with a new multi-hub design, the aim of this study was to describe the relationship between the clinical spatial environment and its effect on communication patterns, nurse satisfaction, distance walked, organizational outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. Hospital institutional data indicated that patient satisfaction increased substantially. Few significant changes were found in communication patterns; no significant changes were found in nurse job satisfaction, patient falls, pressure ulcers, or organizational outcomes such as average length of stay or patient census.

Key Words: Nursing unit, multi-hub design, communication, quality of care, nurse satisfaction, patient outcomes

Preferred Citation: Hua, Y., Becker, F., Wurmser, T., Bliss-Holtz, J., & Hedges, C. Effects of nursing unit spatial layout on nursing team communication patterns, quality of care, and patient safety. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 6(1), 8-38.

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