Lighting in the hospital is an important part of hospital construction and management. Light is critical to human functioning to allow us to see and perform activities. But light also affects psychologically and physiologically, therefore incorporating light into healthcare settings can be beneficial for patients as well as the staff who work in the building. Studies show that higher light levels are linked with better performance of complex visual tasks and light requirements increase with age.
Light impacts the body’s circadian system. A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. By controlling the body’s circadian system, light impacts outcomes in healthcare settings by reducing depression among patients, decreasing the length of stay in hospitals, improving sleep and circadian rhythm, lessening agitation among dementia patients, easing pain and improving the adjustment to night-shift staff. The presence of windows at the healthcare facility as well as daylight has been linked to increased satisfaction with the work environment. Further importance is that exposure to light is critical for Vitamin D metabolism in the human body. Light exposure is also used to treat neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (jaundice).
The right surgical lighting in the operating theatre is critical for patient safety and staff comfort. The lighting design should enable the medical team to see small, low-contrast objects at varying depths in incisions and body cavities. A set-up consists of a single or multiple-light head assembly attached to a suspension arm. The surgical light fixture can either be mounted at a fixed point on a ceiling or wall or even positioned along a ceiling-mounted track. Types of lamps include tungsten, quartz, halogens and light-emitting diodes (LED). Sterilizable handles allow the surgeon to easily adjust the light position. Most models can accommodate a mounted camera and the latest lights have an integrated camera. Integration into the operating room infrastructure and control system is now possible.
Surgical lights are designed to operate for extended periods of time without radiating excessive heat. In case of light failure during surgery, some models come with a reserve lamp that automatically switches on when the primary lamp fails.
Reported problems with operating lights include patients reportedly burned by lights in which heat protection filters were removed. Burns was reported when multiple surgical lights operated at maximum intensity were focused on the same area. Bumping lights can crack or fracture pieces that could fall onto the operating table. Dirt or fingerprints on the quartz-halogen lamp can cause the bulb to fail prematurely, be discoloured or explode. Other reported problems include disconnection and or falling of fixture components.
In hospital environments, using circadian lighting techniques with changing colour temperature and light intensity can show positive results. Human-centric lighting has the potential to support the well-being of patients as well as the workers in the healthcare facility. With the right lighting solutions, the healthcare building’s energy efficiency and human comfort can heal and be essential infrastructure development.