Robert Bober, MD: Designing a Better Hospital Room


New features include wireless vital monitors, red lighting for nighttime, and surfaces and linens infused with antimicrobial copper.

Optimal Hospital, an initiative at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, is using scientific knowledge and new technology to design a better hospital room, enhance the patient experience, and improve outcomes.

Robert Bober, MD, Director of Nuclear Cardiology at Ochsner Medical Center, told MD Magazine® about the changes introduced through Optimal Hospital. The changes include wireless vital monitors, later blood draws to allow patients uninterrupted sleep, red lighting for nighttime use, and copper-infused linens, handrails, and tabletops to cut down on the spread of infections.

MD Mag: What changes has Optimal Hospital introduced to the hospital room?

“We've taken some scientific facts and made them usable,” Bober said of the various changes. Robert Bober, MD: [One of the] things that we have done for Optimal Hospital is wireless vital monitoring that is constant, so we have wireless devices that are placed on the wrist and it's every second getting blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, even the position of whether they're sitting upright or supine, and also provide some temperature readings. So, we don't have to come in at 3 o'clock in the morning, put on a blood pressure cuff, and wake the patient up and stick a thermometer down their mouth. That's—you know—just number 1.

Number 2: we've pushed all the blood draws back later in the morning, so that no one's getting woken up to have their blood drawn. The earliest blood draws start at 6 o'clock, so the patient is allowed to sleep from 11pm to 6am uninterrupted. Furthermore, if the nurse does need to come in to the room to evaluate the patient, we have the red lighting which is less disruptive to the patient's circadian rhythm than natural white light.

We've taken some scientific facts and made them usable. So, red lighting, wireless technology, later blood draws, all to try to let the patient sleep longer and have that sleep uninterrupted and good quality of sleep.

Then we also had some other changes which are also well known. Copper is a material that is bactericidal, so it will kill bacteria and pretty much viruses, fungi, any organism that can cause infection. It kills 99.9% of them. So, we have linens that are copper. Some of these suites have [copper] handrails. The surface tabletops are all going to be copper in an effort to cut down infection.

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