Health care facility flooring selection is critical to the welfare of patients and caregivers and to the success of the facility. Until now, too many decisions are made on the basis of anecdotal evidence. But in recent years, myself and other researchers have looked into questions from a more scientific perspective.
You might be surprised to know the following:
1. Based on clinical studies involving over 90 hospitals, flooring of any type, including carpet has not been linked to nosocomial infection rates. Housekeeping and personal hygiene are most important. See attached reference Bartley-Olmstead page S10.
2. Most sassumptions about flooring and anti fatigue performance are wrong. Rubber flooring does not appear to have any useful anti-faitgue properties, when tested by an independant laboratory that does anti-fatigue tests for Nike and other footwear companies. See attached reference from Facility Care.
3. Most assumptions about flooring and rolling resistance of wheelchairs and hospital beds are wrong. Certain high density carpets with engineered backing offer both low rolling resistance and anti fatigue performance. See the attached reference from Facility Care.
I routinely give CEU accredited webinars on the importance of making flooring specifications based on scientific research to hospitals, healthcare provider systems, risk managers, architects and university healthcare architecture programs. I have presented in the US, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, Thailand, and Korea and will shortly be presenting to a group in the Persian Gulf, since 2007
As already highlighted trialling various surfaces and the forces required for wheeled equipment to be used on them will help you clarify the most ‘efficient’ floor surfaces.
What you may well find is that equipment such as beds will require the use of powered tugs. One of the more effective ways I have seen this engineered is through the powered tug being fitted to the head of the bed and this end also being used as the steering end as it allows greater manoeuvrability in the limited space of a room.
The issue of hygiene and cleaning may well be two different issues. The transmission of disease from floor surfaces (nosocomial infection) is usually limited as people generally do not crawl on the floor and then deal directly with patients and if they washed their hands correctly the transmission of disease from the floor would be limited. The issue of cleaning a floor surface may be more about dirt/dust/stains/spillage general appearance etc.