Whenever we hear topics mentioning the NHS, it’s usually covering the hard ship that its facing. Whether that being staff shortages across hospitals in England or problems based on a lack of funding, there seems to be an endless amount of issues the healthcare service faces on a daily basis. However, it’s not just money concerns or time that are important factors affecting hospitals every single day, it’s the air too.
For the wellbeing of staff and patients alike, it’s important that hospitals obtain a certain level of air quality and temperature control. It’s a matter of bringing comfort and safety to all. For example, if hospitals are treating patients who are vulnerable to diseases, the last thing they’d want is for an airborne disease to flowing around its wards. Therefore, ventilation and ventilation management are crucial for patient safety.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most important aspects of temperature and air quality control for the healthcare sector.
Comfort and care for patients
At a minimum, the temperature control of a hospital directly links to patient comfort. This was highlighted during an incident in March 2018 when a faulty air conditioning unit led to a dramatic drop in temperature for a maternity ward in Kent. The temperature dropped low enough to risk hypothermia for the babies in the ward.
And, it’s not just cold temperatures that are the only problem hospitals face when we talk about temperature control. Both patients and staff complained throughout the year of problem temperatures, from 33°C in the labour and maternity ward in the summer, to being unbearably cold in the winter. With a proper investment in effective HVAC systems and temperature sensors, a comfortable level can be maintained.
The risk of disease
Along with patient comfort being a concern of poor temperature control, safety is another. As many of us know, bacteria and fungi thrive in overly-warm conditions, and can spread quickly in unventilated rooms. By carefully monitoring temperature and humidity, the risk of airborne diseases spreading can be reduced significantly. According to an article by Rotronic UK, the recommended room temperature for hospitals in the summer is between 23°C and 27°C, while in the winter it is recommended to keep the temperatures slightly lower with a guide range of 24°C to 26°C. Humidity-wise, the report recommends 50-60%rh throughout the hospital.
To put these temperature and humidity recommendations into perspective, Dr Jeremy Wingate educates that the survival rate of influenza is at its lowest at a temperature of 21°C and a relative humidity of 40%rh – 60%rh. He advises that temperatures above 24°C seem to decrease the survival of many airborne bacteria. Meanwhile, air-handling units reduced the concentration of airborne fungi, but natural ventilation increased it.
For controlling airborne germs and diseases, air quality and ventilation systems can be used. Medical Xpress noted the current practice of some hospitals involves using negative pressure rooms to treat infected patients, with ventilation rooms that keep the air from these rooms from getting out to the rest of the hospital.
If the air supply is reduced in infected wards of the hospital, and pumped out at maximum, a negative pressure can form in the rooms. This means when a door is opened, air rushes into the room, but not out. This keeps the germ-filled air trapped in the wards with the infected patients, rather than allowing it out to spread through the building.
So, as we can see, it’s incredibly important to have temperature, air quality and ventilation control for the healthcare sector. For an industry already facing so many issues, poor air conditioning and humidity levels shouldn’t have to be suffered; they can be easily dealt with a quality air conditioning system to keep patients comfortable and protected.