How do you set the standard for comfort? In many cases, personal comfort is subjective and based on individual preference. When it comes to a person’s physical environment, a variety of factors may influence overall comfort, including temperature, humidity, and ventilation.
In a healthcare setting, patient comfort and safety are top priorities. But just as important as protecting patients is keeping the staff comfortable to ensure productivity and efficiency. When it comes to maintaining comfort for these two groups, hospital temperature plays a key role. According to the journal Energy and Buildings, “the thermal environment affects both physical and psychological health.”
Challenges of Identifying the Ideal Hospital Temperature
Hospitals offer a unique environment with a diverse population of patients and employees. In fact, Intelligent Buildings International reported that general hospitals “house 39 different function groups for inpatient care, treatment, diagnostics and supporting facilities.” Due to variations in preferences and health status, each group has different requirements for comfort.
According to ASHRAE Transactions, addressing the complexities of thermal comfort in hospitals involves analyzing the industry standard and the unique factors of hospital occupants. For example, the journal noted that the “ASHRAE thermal comfort standard (ASHRAE 2017a) requires a set of environmental and personal factors that depend on the occupants’ activity levels and clothing insulation.”
Consider two examples that illustrate the importance of hospital temperature:
- In 2018, a maternity ward in a hospital in Kent, England, experienced an unexpected temperature drop so low that all babies were at risk for developing hypothermia.
- A study conducted by the International Journal for Research in Engineering Application & Management found that “the memories of thermal comfort or discomfort during surgery affect a patient’s overall satisfaction with surgical care.”
When determining what the correct temperature should be of a given space, consider the unique health and circumstances of the patients and staff occupying that hospital room or area, and try to strike a balance. Consider the following factors:
- Heat: In general, higher indoor air temperatures can cause discomfort. For example, patients with chronic conditions, including diabetes, respiratory diseases, epilepsy, and cardiovascular/cerebrovascular diseases, tend to be more sensitive to heat. In addition, hospital staff tend to “experience more warmth than patients.”
- Gender and age: The study by Intelligent Buildings International concluded that the “thermal comfort of patients and staff was generally related to gender and age.”
- Occupant status: Intelligent Buildings International also revealed that patients accepted “larger temperature differences compared to visitors and staff.” The journal noted that “differences in role and the duration of stay” impacted the varying thermal comfort needs of patients and staff.
- Changing seasons: Several studies within the Intelligent Buildings International literature review revealed that both patients and hospital staff were more satisfied with the indoor air temperature in summer than in winter.
Temperature Ranges for Patient Comfort, Staff Efficiency
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following temperature ranges for healthcare facilities based on zone:
- Cool temperature standards (68 °F to 73 °F (20 °C to 23 °C)) are typically associated with operating rooms, endoscopy suites, and clean workrooms.
- Warmer temperatures (75° F (24° C)) are recommended in areas that require greater degrees of patient comfort. For example, warmer temperatures are usually preferred in hospital patient rooms and delivery rooms.
- A standard temperature range of 70 °F to 75 °F (21 °C to 24 °C) can be used in most other healthcare zones.
In some cases, flexibility is needed to ensure thermal comfort and safety. According to the CDC “temperatures outside of these ranges may be needed occasionally in limited areas depending on individual circumstances during patient care.” For example, cooler temperatures may be required in operating rooms where specialized operations are being performed.
Tool for Hospital Temperature Monitoring
To ensure the comfort, safety, and satisfaction of your patients and staff, it is important to accurately monitor hospital temperatures. Temperature sensors within the Primex OneVue Sense system allow you to measure room and storage unit temperature alike — keeping patients comfortable and assets safe. If the temperature within a certain area leaves a custom, specified range, the system provides local audible and visual alarms. You can also choose to receive mobile alerts so you can respond to temperature fluctuations and make adjustments as needed — before patient comfort is compromised.
Learn more about how OneVue Sense environmental monitors can help keep patient satisfaction scores high by reaching out for a consultation today.