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Anthropol Med. 2015;22(2):149-61. doi: 10.1080/13648470.2014.1003795. Epub 2015 Jun 19.

Implications of design on infection prevention and control practice in a novel hospital unit: the Medical Ward of the 21st Century.

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a School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University , Tempe , Arizona , USA.


The physical design of hospital wards is associated with transmission of pathogenic organisms and hospital-acquired infections. A novel hospital unit, the Medical Ward of the 21st Century (W21C), optimizes features for infection prevention and control practices. Ethnographic research on the W21C versus conventional hospital wards examined the experiential and behavioural elements of the different designs. Three recurring themes emerged regarding the design features on the W21C and included visual cues, 'having a place for things', and less sharing of spaces and materials. Observational data of healthcare worker practices demonstrated significantly higher compliance with hand hygiene opportunities on the W21C compared with older hospital units. These findings suggest how the physical design of a hospital ward may enhance infection prevention and control practices.


W21C; hand hygiene; hospital design; infection prevention and control; visual cues

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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