Sep 16, 2016

DOE Surveys Nurses on Patient LightingAs part of its effort to support the development of next-generation healthcare lighting, the U.S. Department of Energy developed an online nurse survey that was administered by a nonprofit healthcare organization that manages multiple hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. In August 2015, 252 nurses at four hospitals answered questions about the lighting in the patient room where they most often worked. The primary goal was to determine what’s needed in an ideal patient room lighting system, with a secondary goal of identifying opportunities for increasing energy efficiency.

Nurses with varying ages and years of experience com­pleted the survey. They worked in a newly constructed children’s hospital, an older hospital with some renovated patient rooms and two older hospitals (one urban and one suburban). The nurses rated and ranked the aspects of lighting that helped or hindered their performance of tasks, and rated the quality of the lighting in different areas of the patient room. They also indicated whether or not they used supplemental lighting and, if so, what kind they used. One question asked the nurses to select different words to describe the patient room lighting. They were also asked to list the best feature of the lighting system (which in all cases was fluorescent), and how lighting sys­tems could be improved.

Among the preliminary findings:

Overall, color was less important to the nurses than controls and light level, but was more important than the other attributes nurses were asked about, including flicker, shadow, patterns and glare. The spectral properties of light have received increased attention in the lighting industry, specifically as related to healthcare; however, nurses’ concerns regarding light level and controls should remain major considerations when designing the next generation of patient room lighting systems. (“I love having OPTIONS of lighting. To be able to sneak in at 4 a.m. and turn on a tiny light in the nursing area, which does not shine on the family or patient as they are sleeping, is amazingly wonderful to have. Otherwise, us night nurses use the light from the IV pump, or maybe a flashlight – but you can’t hold the flashlight AND use your hands to do tasks.”)