How To Design a Workable Hospital Floor Plan


Designing a hospital is no easy feat. In a perfect world, there might be a simple, one-size-fits-all solution. However, there is no such thing, especially when it comes to hospitals. While the goal of any building is to meet the maximum number of goals while staying within a strict budget, hospitals seem to require a more strategic approach. This is primarily because the facility will be required to provide a wide range of services and functions. This list includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Inpatient services (medical, surgical, psychiatric, surgery, pharmacy)
  • Outpatient services (emergency, clinics)
  • Diagnostic and treatment services (labs, surgery, imaging, morgue)
  • Administrative services (reception, registration, record keeping, HR, marketing, accounting)
  • Service functions (cafeteria, housekeeping, supplies)
  • Research and teaching services (pharmacy)

As you can tell, the vast complexity of hospital services is what makes the design process quite complicated. Many different needs must be met, while simultaneously maintaining daily efficiency. It is certainly a great deal to take on, but with the proper preparation and guidance, this daunting task can be simplified as much as possible.

Designing a Workable Hospital Floor Plan

When a new building project is started, the design of its floor plan is one of the most important aspects. In order to achieve perfection from the start, the hospital’s specific functions, room sizes, and useable space must be considered first. The useable space has to be maximized in order to meet the needs of the patients and staff. There are many ways to accomplish this; a big-picture approach is to plan for future expansions, while a smaller-scale tactic is to strategically arrange equipment and cabinets.

A well-designed floor plan will provide many benefits to a hospital, such as accompanying patients, families, and staff. Easy navigation and smartly ordered units will prevent mass confusion and chaos. Unfortunately, no design formula is perfect for every case; however, the guidelines within this section are commonly used when designing a hospital floor plan.

Many different factors often determine the type of floor plan that will work for each medical facility:

  • The overall size of the hospital or medical facility
  • The configuration and size of the building site
  • The personality you want to establish for your hospital or practice
  • The medical services that will be offered
  • The number of doctors and staff that will be active at the facility
  • The organization of the hospital or practice

When designing a hospital floor plan, it is imperative to plot the different service units. Traditional design centralizes the diagnostic and treatment units to amplify its accessibility. Then the other units, such as pharmacy, records, and outpatient areas, can occupy the perimeter.

As is the case with every building, the floor plan must incorporate efficient patterns of traffic in and between zones. Hospitals especially need to adhere to this practice because a long or complicated commute from one end of the facility to the other could. It is very important to design and incorporate efficient patterns of traffic in and between the zones. The most efficient designs will minimize travel distances and traffic jams. When it comes to designing floor plans for major hospitals, emergency centers, or specialty practices, this basic floor layout will not necessarily apply, but the goals for the floor plan will remain the same.


Retrieved January, 2012, from

Healthcare construction from start to finish

Healthcare construction and design require specialty knowledge and experience. The process is vastly different when patient outcomes are affected by construction decisions. In this guide, we show you how to work most effectively with your builder and manage your healthcare facility's building program from start to finish.

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