Improved Patient Care Through Human-Centered Design

Realizing Improved Patient Care Through Human-Centered Design in the Operating Room



Health & Body


Clemson University


Researchers: David Allison, Anjali Joseph, Sara Bayramzadeh, Rachel Matthews, Austin Ferguson, Lansing Dodd, Malone Hopkins, Herminia Machry, Deborah Wingler, and James Abernathy

Surgical errors and infections are serious patient safety concerns in the operating room (OR), and the design of the OR can contribute to safer outcomes. Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have been awarded a four-year Patient Safety Learning Lab (PSLL) Grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop a safer and more ergonomic operating room designed using a multidisciplinary, human-centered approach. This project integrates research, education, and practice components with the goal of developing design strategies that can improve patient and staff safety and efficiency in the OR. This research project included in-depth investigation of the OR to analyze patient and staff outcomes. Through a semester-long design project, graduate students from the Architecture + Health program at Clemson translated research into design solutions that were then built into a full-scale physical prototype of the OR. Surgical team members from MUSC then enacted different surgical scenarios within the prototype to test the effectiveness of proposed solutions. This hand-on learning experience was enriched by the engagement of medical staff as well as research and design professionals in the surgical simulations and evaluations of the mock-up. Iterative testing led to a significantly improved design for the prototype OR.