Key messages

• The direct patient area should occupy no more than about 40 per cent of the total area of an intensive care unit (ICU). Space outside the patient area is no less vital than circulation space around each bed, but storage space and staff space are often reduced in the interests of cost reduction.

• Ideally, the location of an ICU within a particular hospital will be determined by the case mix of patients to be admitted and the situation of other departments with which ICU staff will be in regular contact.

• Sharing engineering services with other departments such as operating theaters might seem advantageous, but this is by no means an overriding factor and may indeed reduce flexibility.

• The normally busy ICU acts as a focal point of the hospital since from time to time every clinician will need to visit a patient, some very frequently. Introduction

There are a number of published guidelines for the design of intensive care units (ICUs), notably from the E.yiop©§n..Society of...Intensj.ve , the

Faculty ...of. .Intensive. .Care.. of ..the Australian ..and...New...Zealand... College ..of...Anaesthetists...(1994) , and the American College of Critical Care Medicine (1995), but perhaps the most detailed emanate from the Intensive.. Care ...Society... of. the ...United. ..Kingdom ...(1996). There is considerable international agreement about design details but little agreement on unit size or the benefits (or otherwise) of regionalization. The following is a distillation of the recommendations.

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