In most hospitals, nursing services on each patient floor and in surgical care units are coordinated from a centralized stations, most of which operate around the clock. Patient data entry and charting, filing, dispensing of medication and observation of display screens are just a few of the visual tasks that take place at a nursing station.
Since this is an area of the hospital where patient comfort is not the key goal, the functional aspects of the lighting design take precedence. The lighting design is often integrated with the corridor lighting since the nursing staff makes frequent trips from their station to the patient rooms.
Low glare task illuminance and luminaire placement is important to reduce reflections from the display screens and surrounding reflective surfaces. Many of these screens monitor patients’ vital signs so viewing accuracy is critical.
Under shelf or under counter lighting should be suitable to the task and arranged to supplement the overall general illumination plan. Illuminance levels should be controllable through multiple switching or dimming systems, allowing for higher illumination during peak daytime activity and lower illumination at night. Illuminance levels in corridors (especially at night) should be integrated with light levels at the nursing station to allow for visual adaption of staff walking from the station to patient rooms and adjacent areas. The lighting in the corridors should facilitate visual adaptation by providing higher illuminance on the wall opposite the doors of the rooms.
Lighting design for night shift personnel should address circadian rhythms and promote a high degree of alertness. Medication areas require increased illuminance and color rendition. Most will have two light levels – one for general illumination and one for preparing medications.
Auxiliary areas such as coffee rooms, storage rooms, medication dispensaries, etc are good candidates for energy saving motion sensors.