6 Key Design Mistakes for Surgery Centers

Tom Curtis, owner of Curtis Group Architects in Dallas, identifies six key design mistakes for ambulatory surgery centers.


1. Entrance the same as the exit. When exiting, patients should not pass by entering patients. "Patients in post-procedure don't look so great coming out," Mr. Curtis says. Therefore, put the exit in a different place from the entrance, preferably around a corner. And since entering and exiting patients should not mix in an elevator, ASCs should be located on ground floors.


2. Making ORs too large. Make the OR big enough to accommodate big procedures like orthopedic surgery, but not so big as to lose money. This involves close consultations with the clinical team and discussing future changes, but not agreeing to everything physicians want. "Every physician wants the OR as big as he can get it," Mr. Curtis says.

3. Too few patient bays. Not designing enough pre-op and post-op bays can significantly slow ASC volume. Make sure the number of bays is the right match for the number of ORs and the pace of surgeries. And add swing bays that can follow patient flow as the day proceeds, functioning as pre-op bays in the morning and post-op bays in the afternoon. "This ensures fast throughput and an efficient surgery center," Mr. Curtis says.

4. Unfamiliarity with local codes. Research code requirements at the very start of the planning process. Having to alter designs later will cost time and money. Certain jurisdictions may, for instance, forbid placing a pump in the same room as the water heater, requiring an extra wall. "You don't want these problems discovered in the final inspections when you are trying to get the place open," Mr. Curtis says.

5. No place to add more ORs. If the ASC grows and needs more ORs several years hence, the facility should be configured in such a way that additional ORs can be inserted within the "red lines" of the sterile area, he says. To ensure this, the architect can draft plans for the future facility, but only part of the ASC is built initially.

6. Not enough storage space. Not having enough storage is a persistent problem for an ASC. Usually more storage is needed than the code requires and what storage space there is may be sacrificed later on for other spaces. In addition to storage rooms and cabinets, create alcoves where bulky items like C-arms or stretchers can be parked, Mr. Curtis advises.


Learn more about Curtis Group Architects.


Read more about ASC development:


- 3 Stages of Surgery Center Growth Require Different Management Approaches


- 8 Design Specifics for Development of Spine Surgery Centers


- 4 Factors Influencing the Success of an ASC Merger

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