HEWI MAG / Clinic

Hospital patient room: How to design it right 

How patient rooms in hospitals are designed has a major influence on the recovery of patients as well as on the work of staff. But what is important in the design? We provide you with valuable ideas in this article.

Architects and planners have to take into account requirements for care and user needs for patient rooms. This is not always an easy task because usually only small areas are available. Additional ordinances influence the floor plan design because they prescribe minimum distances, among other things. You can find out here where you as a planner or architect can make use of your design leeway.

Patient room in hospital: What are the legal requirements?

In the case of new buildings or structural changes in patient rooms, the operators must check together with planners and architects whether the state of the art as well as occupational medicine, hygiene, and ergonomic requirements are met. Access to workplaces, movement areas, arrangement of lights, and accessible design are specified in ASR V3.

Feeling good in the hospital room thanks to pleasant lighting

But apart from legal requirements: It is important that patients feel as comfortable as possible in their room. The right light – in accordance with Human Centric Lighting (HCL) – is highly beneficial for the recovery of patients. This is a human-centred lighting concept for indoor spaces. It takes into account not only the visual but also the emotional and non-visual effects of light in rooms. Essentially, HCL is about adapting indoor lighting to the natural course of daylight. Higher proportions of blue in the morning and warmer colours at sunrise as well as increasing proportions of blue at midday and decreasing proportions in the evening. In the evening hours or when daylight is insufficient, indirect lighting of at least 100 lux is recommended in patient rooms. Indirect lighting is better because it visually enlarges the room and promotes relaxation. Warm white light creates a cosy atmosphere. Both are often perceived as pleasant by patients.


The light required for patient care is specified in DIN EN 12464-1 as well as in DIN 5035-3. At least 300 lux is needed for simple nursing tasks. Furthermore, the uniformity between maximum and mean illuminance should not fall below a ratio of 1:2. More complex examinations and treatments as well as emergencies require at least 1,000 lux. The light is composed of the illumination of the entire room. The light should not dazzle the nursing staff or doctors.

Patient room floor plan

In order to ensure good patient care as well as suitable working conditions for staff, the patient room should be equipped as follows: The minimum sizes for patient rooms in hospitals are specified in the Model Hospital Construction Ordinance, which serves as a guide. The patient room floor plan must be as follows: A single room needs a size of at least 10 m². In a shared room, 8 m² of floor space per bed is required. This does not include the space for the wet room. Locks or built-in wall cupboards are to be allocated per patient.

Equipment of patient rooms in the hospital and minimum dimensions

Most beds in patient rooms are between 85 cm and 105 cm wide and 220 cm long. Plan the room – also around the bed – so that there is enough space for care activities. Space is also needed for transporting patients and for social activities (e.g. visitors). Depending on the type of activity – sitting or standing – there must be a minimum depth and width of 1.00 m.

The prescribed floor areas are the sum of several areas. They are dependent on movement areas of employees at the workplace and the area must be at least 1.5 m². It should be possible to move beds that are further back in the room without having to move other beds.


Bedside equipment in the patient room

The supply rail is located above the bed and requires sufficient lighting as well as sockets. These are necessary for height-adjustable beds, infusion pumps, or other electronic devices. In addition, switches are needed for general, direct room lighting, examination lighting, and a night overview light. At least four sockets with 230 V are also required. The patient call component, potential equalisation connection, and empty spaces for telephone socket and TV control as well as connections for medical gases must be taken into account. Space for other technical aids, including mobile lifters and stand-up aids should be considered. Dining tables and bedside tables should not be permanently installed because of the limited space available. Also think about additional space for furnishings (e.g. tables, chairs, and cupboards). It should be possible to open built-in cupboards without moving other furniture.

Special requirements are necessary for people with a higher weight. Here you will find an overview of aids for severely overweight people.


Accessibility in health care is prescribed by two different legal sources: public building law and workplace law. The following applies to the furnishing of patient rooms: All rooms that are relevant for patient care must be accessible. The needs and requirements of all people must be taken into account in hospital planning. The implementation of accessibility can be found in DIN 18040 (accessible building) as well as in the technical regulation for workplaces “Accessible design of workplaces” (ASR V 3a.2). You can find tips on designing an accessible bathroom in the following articles in our MAG:

Suitable flooring for the patient room in the hospital

In the bathroom, the floor coverings must be slip-resistant. The floor covering must comply with the slip hazard rating R 9 – in bathrooms, floor coverings of the rating group R 10 are required. Essential for hygiene: The floor must also retain its anti-slip properties – even if it comes into contact with cleaning agents or disinfectants. The care instructions of the manufacturer of the respective floor covering must be taken into account. Floors in hospitals are exposed to high levels of stress. Wheelchairs, lifts, trolleys, or beds can put a great deal of strain on the floor covering. The floor coverings must therefore also be designed for this. Further information on this can be found in DGUV Information 207-016.

Patient room in hospital: Doors have to be this wide

In every patient room in the hospital, it must be possible for the nursing staff to wheel a patient bed through the door. For this, the doors require a clearance width of 1.25 m and a clearance height of 2.10 m. There may be no thresholds. When planning, consider different door opening directions for room and wet room doors. Otherwise, there is a risk of collisions and obstructions. This can be especially life-threatening in the event of an emergency. In existing buildings, this can be counteracted by space-saving doors, door stops, or sliding doors.

Successfully mastering challenges in hospital planning

These numerous requirements make planning and conversion of patient rooms in hospitals a particularly difficult task. Set the legal requirements as a minimum so that you have more leeway for later conversions. Studies regarding the furnishing of patient rooms in hospitals support the adjustment of hospital planning to the current requirements. One example of this is the KARMIN project: The design of patient rooms has a considerable influence on the recovery of patients and can minimise the risk of infection. Find out more about this project here.

Hospital room with two beds

Image source: KARMIN project


Support in the planning of hospital bathrooms

Do you need help planning an accessible hospital bathroom? We are happy to support you with our free planning service for planners and architects.