Radiology Room Design in the UK
Radiology rooms require experienced planning and skilled project management.
A new diagnostic imaging system has the potential to touch hundreds of stakeholders in a healthcare facility. Radiographers, patients, and the physicians who review the radiographs might all benefit from the system’s new features.
But leading up to the moment when the first image is captured is about five weeks of room design, intricate planning, and tight coordination of multiple suppliers. For this extended period of time, the healthcare facility is operating with one less radiology room. For a larger hospital, this is merely an inconvenience as they spread the workload among other rooms. For a smaller facility, it can mean a delay in patients receiving their imaging exams, and a loss of revenue. And if the rebuild involves structural support, plumbing, and/or electricity, the work can disrupt services to other areas of the facility.
Imaging room design is complex. The rooms have unique requirements like special construction to support 1,000 pound overhead tube cranes, and lead linings to contain X-ray scatter. Cabling paths need to accommodate workflow, and control area requirements need to be factored in. And of course, the health and safety regulations in the UK are constantly changing. Even experienced Building Works departments within a hospital can find radiology room design challenging as it is not something they do frequently – perhaps once every 10 to 15 years. In contrast, our Carestream team oversees many installs annually in the UK. I personally have successfully managed over 200 DR room installations.
A typical install of new equipment in an existing room can involve up to seven different trades/ suppliers. These include electricians, painters, engineers, medical physicists, and applications experts. If one participant falls out of sync with the planned schedule, the whole timeline needs to be adjusted. I know of more than one hospital that had to scurry to find storage space for very large crates when their equipment arrived before their room was ready.
Designing optimum radiology room workflow
Designing the optimum workflow for an X-ray room also requires specialized experience. For example, the strategic placement of devices is critical for inpatient medical imaging. Rooms for imaging post-op patients need to support their care protocol. And rooms for interventional radiology procedures must accommodate line placements, anesthesia, and oxygen.
Seemingly small changes can make a big improvement. Cupboards can be relocated so the radiographer does not have to walk around them to get to a patient. A wall stand in the right location makes it easier to do image capture for chest X-rays. And an angled doorway makes it easier for hospital staff to maneuver patient beds and wheelchairs in and out of the imaging room.
Because of our experience with numerous installs of imaging equipment, we know the right questions to ask, and we can make recommendations to improve workflow in the radiology room. Or we might have an option to minimize room construction and therefore save money and minimize disruption.
Purchasing new equipment is a major investment. Be sure to involve your supplier in your radiology room redesign to get the most out of your new X-ray solution.
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Dave Johnston is Carestream’s Implementation Project Manager for the UK. He has 33 years experience in healthcare, and has successfully managed over 200 digital radiography (DR) room installations and provided support for radiography room designs across Europe.