Burn Unit Design


When designing a burn unit it, is important to understand that these particular patients are extremely susceptible to germs. The skin is one’s most important protection feature, and with these patients, many layers of the skin are gone, exposing the inner layers. Bacterial infection is one of the most common causes of complication in the burn patient so it is vital to design to prevent this from happening. In more recent years, centers have been built specifically for burn patients so that staff can better control the spread of infection. In the 1950’s there were less than ten hospitals in the United States that specialized in burns. Since that time, there has been significant advancement in understanding the problem of burn injuries and there are now about two hundred special burn care centers in the United States (Magliacani C., Teich Alasia S., Bormioli M., Stella M).

Another thing to consider when designing a space is the background of the patients that may be receiving treatment. In burn care units, nearly 70% of the patients admitted are male, and many of them are homeless and suffer from substance abuse. Because of this, some patients may not understand what is going on around them and may not have what we may consider “typical” circumstances. Many of the patients treated are also very young, under the age of five, and therefore will need a special type of treatment as well. Burns are much more common than most people may think. In the United States alone, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported per year. Approximately 650,000 of the injuries are treated by medical professionals; 75,000 are hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, 20,000 have major burns involving at least 25% of their total body surface. Between 8,000 and 12,000 of patients with burns die, and approximately one million will sustain substantial or permanent disabilities resulting from their burn injury (The Law Offices of Robert A. Brenner).

When designing a space it is most important to consider how to reduce the necessity for movement within the unit of staff, patients, waste material, etc. In order to do this, there must be allocated zones for each patient category including acute, non-acute, and infected. Each zone must be equipped with all the patient-care requirements for daily routines such as therapy, hygiene, and staff areas. It’s also important to organize traffic routes and corridors so that there will be minimal to zero contact between the various zones (Magliacani C., Teich Alasia S., Bormioli M., Stella M). Another huge aspect to consider when designing a burn care unit is the HVAC system and how to prevent the spread of bacteria from staff to patient, and patient to patient. To achieve this, it is most important that acute and non-acute patients are separated from one another. Doors and rooms should be air-locked to prevent the spreading of air-borne bacteria. It is also important for patients to control the temperature in their own room as much as possible. Many times during the early stages of a burn, the patient may feel very cold and because patients will be at different stages than one another, they will need a temperature that is fitting for his or her individual circumstance.

Patient Rooms:

In most cases, patients will have his or her own room to reduce the spread of infection. Along with reducing the spread of bacteria, its important to have a sink at the entry of every room as well as some storage for supplies. Its also good to try and incorporate a family or guest seating area because many times these patients will remain in the unit for months at a time. Usually each patient room has an attached restroom that is easily accessible from the bed. It is difficult and painful for burn victims to move so having the restroom in close proximity is necessary.

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