Lighting Options by Space or Area



Critical Care Areas


The name critical care refers to a variety of areas in the hospital that provide specialized post surgical treatment to extremely ill patients. This includes: intensive care units, cardiac/coronary care units, burn care units, pulmonary care units, neonatal intensive care units, cerebral care units and others. Key requirements include rest for patients, constant patient monitoring and fast response in the case of an emergency.


The more specialized areas often have mechanical systems that support the treatment being offered, for example positive or negative air pressure zones in burn care rooms. Others have specialized monitoring and life support systems on the patient headwall and additional space around the bed for trauma teams to operate. The lighting design needs to be coordinated with the particular equipment and space requirements.

NOTE: Several special publications are available that cover lighting design criteria for specific critical care units. Visit


Design Tips:

  • General lighting design should provide: indirect lighting, supplementary direct lighting for examinations and treatment and higher illuminance for emergencies. This is done either by activating more luminaires or by switching on all the lamps in the luminaires.

  • Patient controlled general lighting should be dimmable so that patients will not be subjected to unreasonable glare.

  • High color temperature and color rendering index (5000K >85CRI) fluorescent lamps are recommended to allow medical staff to assess skin tone and pallor, eye tints, prominence of veins, etc.

  • Lighting systems that use lamps with special properties for treatment of various medical conditions (e.g. germicidal, UV, and plaster heat curing lamps) may be incorporated and will need to be controlled independently from the general lighting.

  • An adjustable and moveable task luminaire provides higher level illumination for: examinations and emergency surgical/trauma procedures.

  • Glare free illumination of display screens and life support systems must permit reading of labels, operation of the controls and reading patient charts.

  • Dedicated observation lighting enables patients and medical equipment to be monitored at night. In rooms where patients are monitored through windows, the level of lighting needs to be significantly lower in the room than in the observation area outside. The daylight entering the space needs to be controllable using appropriate window treatments.


NOTE: Health Resource Administration standards require windows in critical care patient rooms to allow patient to be aware of the outdoor environment. (not as a lighting component)


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