Exposure to Light Can Help Reduce Medical Errors and Improve Patient Outcomes in Hospitals; Linked to Depression and Stress

CONCORD, Calif., Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Research evidence shows that appropriate exposure to natural and artificial light in hospitals and clinics is critical to the health and well-being of patients and staff.

This subject is explored in a 12-page paper recently released by the nonprofit Center for Health Design (CHD) titled "The Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings."

"Light allows staff to better perform visual tasks," says Anjali Joseph, Ph.D., CHD's Director of Research and author of the paper. "It also controls circadian systems, affects mood and perception, and enables critical chemical reactions in the body."

    Key research findings presented in the paper include:

    -- Studies show that higher light levels are linked with better
       performance of complex visual tasks and that light requirements
       increase with age.

    -- By controlling the body's circadian system, light impacts patient
       outcomes by reducing depression, decreasing length of stay, improving
       sleep and circadian rhythm, lessening agitation, easing pain, and
       improving adjustment to night-shift work among staff.

    -- The presence of windows in the workplace and access to daylight have
       been linked with increased satisfaction with the work environment.

    -- Exposure to light is critical for vitamin D metabolism in the human
       body and is also used as a treatment for jaundice in babies.

The paper, which is can be downloaded free at www.healthdesign.org , is the second in a series of Issue Papers funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of a grant to CHD to develop new Learning Tools for those planning and designing healthcare facilities. The first paper, which was released in July 2006, is on the impact of the environment on infections in healthcare facilities.

CHD is a research and advocacy organization whose mission is to transform healthcare settings into healing environments that improve outcomes through the creative use of evidence-based design.

Source: Center for Health Design

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