Hospital bed space may seem like a relatively simple issue, but the reality is much more complex. Hospital administrators must balance uncertain patient demand (due to fluctuations in local injuries and illnesses) with hospital bed space that is likely divided into several different categories (such as a cardiac wing, a geriatric wing, an intensive care unit, a maternity ward, etc.). If bed space for any one variety of patient runs low, hospital administrators must be able to arrange intrahospital exchanges that meet the needs of all patients involved while still providing hospital staff with the equipment and space they need to do their jobs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides several guides on hospital bed space in addition to general space management for the arrangement of hospital wings, wards, and departments. With regard to healthcare industry manufacturers, the Food and Drug Administration publishes the Quality System Regulation, which urges manufacturers to use good judgment during the manufacturing process. As one can imagine, when a person’s quality of life (and sometimes even their survival) depends on equipment functioning properly, there is little room for error. Hospital equipment must be safe and reliable, and devices that have the potential to injure or kill patients (such as the issue of entrapment in hospital beds) are carefully regulated. Hospital staff members are also trained to respond to these situations to minimize harm done to patients.
Recent healthcare reform legislation has also had an impact on space management at hospitals, particularly regarding how the hospital itself is managed. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Obamacare or the ACA) gathered national attention with its mandate that small business owners with 50 or more full-time employees would be required to provide health insurance benefits to their full-time staff. Employers who opted out of this portion of the law would be required to pay a substantial penalty for each full-time employee left uninsured. The Affordable Care Act also contained legislation regarding hospital management. Consider section 6001, which places expansion restrictions on present physician-owned hospitals, as well as making it difficult for new physician-owned hospitals to come into being.
These new Affordable Care Act regulations change space management at the ground level, given that physicians, nurses, and hospital staff have direct experience and recommendations regarding efficient hospital layouts. Hospital administrators in non-physician owned hospitals are advised to consult their employees during the layout process, as well as provide employees with a feedback system regarding the implementation of employee recommendations.