Designing doctor’s offices

DESIGNING DOCTOR’S OFFICES

Nowadays, when the patient can choose a doctor, the design of the medical office has become more important. Today no one will consider that the office is only a place of performing medical services – it is also a showcase and a confirmation of the doctor’s prestige. How the office will look is of great importance for the patient’s comfort and the sense of security, and these factors are often even stronger arguments than the doctor’s experience and education. In any case, it would be unreasonable to ignore them, which is why the task of designing doctor’s offices should be entrusted to the best designers and architects.



BASIC LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

When it comes to the regulations, it seems that at the basic level they do not interfere in the way the premises are designed for medical practice. Only the size of the rooms is defined: the height can not be less than 3.1 meters, and the area, depending on the type of practice, must be 12 m² (individual medical practice) or 15 m² (family practice). In addition, the provisions determine the relationship that may occur between private rooms and the medical office, if the rooms for the office are part of a residential building.

Separate structural room with a separate entrance (not through the entrance door to the house - corridor or hallway can not be a common part).

None of the rooms of the medical office or rooms connected with it (waiting room, reception, rest and refreshment room, etc.) can not be shared with the living part, nor can they be transitive.

Within the office part, additional space should be allocated for the waiting room, reception, toilets for patients and staff, rest and refreshment room, and offices for doctors.


It is allowed to leave the passage between the residential part and the office, provided, however, that the transition will not be accessible. This means that between the two parts of the building, e.g. between the corridor of the waiting room and the hallway of the house, we can install the door, but they can not perform a communication function. It is allowed to use it, for example as an emergency exit, but it should remain closed during the work.

We can find separate recommendations in the legal provisions concerning the equipment or décor for each of the rooms, usually, however, they are optional, while mandatory provisions leave the choice of specific material, etc. to the investor. Such dependencies are crucial to the smooth operation of the doctor’s office, but they have not been codified in a uniform manner or issued within one single legal act, which raises real difficulties for interior designers.


FURNITURE AS IMPORTANT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT

The doctor’s office must be equipped with an appropriate set of furniture that will allow for safe storage of medical accessories, devices, documents, medications, etc. The regulations impose the necessity to use such materials, which give the possibility of quick and trouble-free disinfection. However, there is no explicit list of acceptable materials. Currently, the most frequently used are laminates and – as a complementary material – stainless steel. Veneers are not often used, let alone raw wood, which is not subject to fast disinfection. It is determined, however, that all furniture may have either the character of hanging furniture or must be based on legs. Such a requirement results from the need to ensure the possibility of efficient cleaning of the entire floor space in the office, which is sometimes done several times a day. This means that it is not allowed to use decorative strips to cover furniture legs or classic desks with a full back wall. There were cases when a medical office furnished in this way obtained permission for use, but for practical reasons this is an absolutely unacceptable solution.

Investors usually either buy a set of furniture dedicated to medical offices (about a dozen companies in Poland produce such furniture) or order the preparation of an individual furniture design and entrust their production to a furniture company. This second solution gives more possibilities when it comes to personalizing the interior and adapting the set to individual needs, but its disadvantage is the price – it depends directly on the complexity of the design and the amount of furniture in the set, but it is always higher than the cost of buying a similar set from the ready offer. However, many doctors choose such a solution, due to the possibility of individualization mentioned above, which is of great marketing importance.


DOCTOR'S OFFICE FRIENDLY TO THE DISABLED

Adapting the medical office to the needs of people with disabilities or with reduced mobility is now an obvious matter. However, there are several concepts of such adaptation. Some elements are common to all of them:

  • elimination of architectural barriers: stairs, steps, too narrow doors, steep driveways or driveways not equipped with safety rails;
  • rational planning of the office space: wide doors are not enough, a person in a wheelchair must be able to move freely around the entire space;
  • providing facilities for persons with disabilities in auxiliary rooms: railings in the toilet, elevators, if required, furniture available in the office itself, etc.

However, because there are many ways to make the medical office friendly to the disabled, the use of these general guidelines may be insufficient The final decisions depend on the initial availability of the premises and what requirements the investor wants to meet.

EASY MOVEMENT

The space required for full, free turn of a wheelchair in a doctor's office is approximately 1.5 m².

DOOR

The minimum width of the door for wheelchairs is 95 centimeters.

STAIRS

The greater width is recommended for driveways rather than for stairs - these should provide a minimum of 100-105 centimeters in width, and this size grows if the driveway is not straight, but - due to the need to reduce the steepness - with places for U-turns.


DESIGN AND FINISHING: BETWEEN THE LAW AND AESTHETICS

The fact that currently there are more variants of finishes available than ever before is a great convenience for the architect, but the range of materials that can be used in the interiors of doctor’s offices is very limited. First of all, the architect needs to reconcile legal and functional requirements with the investor’s expectations in terms of interior aesthetics.

  • The floor finish must be made of a material that provides good adhesion, which stands out with its resistance to washing and scrubbing, also by aggressive detergents, and which does not react with organic agents.
  • The walls should be finished with smooth, washable materials, additionally secured with a non-absorbent material resistant to scrubbing near water intakes (up to 1.6 m and 60 cm in each direction).

When it comes to finishing the floors, the catalog of materials that meet the above requirements include ceramic tiles, stoneware and PVC linoleum. The walls can be finished in accordance with the investor’s choice, but due to additional requirements concerning the water intakes, where you can use only tiles, ceramics or laminate, some materials are not utilized. Also e.g. wood is not used, which, although it is not explicitly excluded from the catalog, is difficult to keep clean and usually does not fit nicely into the interior.


COMPLETED PROJECT

Neme: S.DENTAL

Address: ul. Skarszewska 16, 83-400 Kościerzyna

Website: www.sdental.pl



Neme: K-DENT

Address: ul. Oliwska 36, 84-208 Kielno

Website: www.stomatolog-kielno.pl



Neme: Flebology Doctors office

Address: ul. Partyzantów 27, 80-254 Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz

Website: www.poradnia-flebologiczna.pl/gdansk/



SUMMARY

Higher and lower-ranking legal acts, practical standards, functional principles, willingness to stand out not only in terms of qualifications, but also in terms of the look of a medical office – all these factors have a different effect on the design of the doctor’s offices. None of these issues can be underestimated. It is important to find a point of balance between what is aesthetic and what is required from the point of view of law, between the desire to design the most beautiful offices and the patients’ habits and preferences. One should be aware that every decision to use the services of a given doctor may be in some part dictated by the impression of the patient visiting the office for the first time.

See also: Designing dental surgeries