Hospitals are complex, task intensive facilities. Many of the spaces in a typical healthcare facility such as corridors, offices, restaurants, conference rooms, and lobbies, are also found in other public facilities. The lighting requirements for these spaces are fairly straightforward and similar. Others space are entirely unique to the healthcare segment: patient rooms, examination rooms, emergency rooms, operating rooms, nursing stations, monitoring and observation rooms, intensive and acute care units, etc.. Lighting requirements for patients will usually be subdued and unobtrusive, while medical staff and maintenance personnel require a variety of illuminance levels. Lighting must, therefore, be flexible and adaptable. Light sources and luminaires in healthcare facilities must often meet specific requirements for user safety and protection, specific locations and functions. Since hospitals typically contain vast numbers of somewhat identical rooms, corridors and waiting areas, the lighting must help create a means of finding one’s way around. And, a large percentage of the hospital population, both patients and staff, may be seniors, so lighting design must accommodate the “aging eye”. All these factors present challenges to the lighting designer.
Lighting in a healthcare facility should compensate for the fact that many of the patients may have limitations in mobility and vision. Any improvements in illumination will aid in navigating the facility and reduce the possibility of accidents. Some of the visual factors to consider are: direct glare, reflected glare, harsh shadows and poorly lit visual cues to hazards. Even visual fatigue can be a factor; the delay in adapting one’s eyes from dark to brightly lit areas and vice versa.