Good lighting may contribute to fewer errors and accidents overall, increased staff productivity, and patient safety.
From limitations in visibility, to unpleasant aesthetic appeal, to surgical patient burns, poor quality lighting can negatively impact a hospital facility and its performance in many ways. Additionally, there’s the high energy cost and environmental repercussions associated with the use of inefficient commercial lighting from incandescent, halogen, and CFL (fluorescent) bulbs.
Comparative studies have shown that LEDs perform better than conventional fluorescent lighting when it comes to some key factors. These include energy efficiency, maintenance costs, disposal costs, visual comfort, physical size and quality of light. So, what exactly does this mean for health industry professionals? In essence, better lighting equals less overhead, happier patients, a healthier planet, more efficient staff members, and improved healthcare. Australia also offers numerous incentives in the form of tax breaks, rebates and more for businesses who make the switch to LED lighting.
Ambiance and Well-being
Have you ever noticed yourself smiling more on sunny days, or feeling more relaxed when the lights are turned down low? Most people don’t give much thought to how lighting can affect their emotions, but there’s a positive correlation between good lighting and one’s overall mood, well-being and health.
The even distribution of colors from LEDs can result in more saturated, vivid color rendering for more effortless visual acuity while completely transforming surroundings. This creates a far more visually appealing environment. LED lighting also provides full-spectrum light which mimics daylight and helps with circadian rhythms for both patients and staff. Fluorescent lighting, on the other hand, only provides partial spectrum light.
In places like entry halls, good lighting creates a pleasant and friendly atmosphere that makes people less apprehensive, meanwhile inspiring confidence in the hospital. Corridors and circulation areas must also avoid sharp lighting contrasts and high levels of brightness so that patients aren’t uncomfortable when being wheeled on a gurney. LED lighting output is easily adjustable which solves this problem.
Hospital Staff Productivity and Safety
Good lighting may contribute to fewer errors and accidents overall, increased staff productivity, and patient safety. Consider the hospital operating room, MRI facility, Ultrasound and CT scan room. These are some of the most important patient-care touch points at a healthcare facility, and they’re all highly dependent on good lighting. Lack of adequate illumination not only makes jobs tougher for medical staff, but can present real dangers to patients.
In the operating room, for example, body tissue can actually become dried out if surgeons are working under bulbs that get too hot. LED tubes and bulbs, however, generate high quality light with minimal heat. LED surgical lights can deliver an intensity of 150,000 lux, while the noon day sun is only 100,000 lux by contrast. This means that LED surgical lights are capable of producing 50% more light than the noon sun but without the heat.
Two LED cluster based lights can replace three halogen lights and because of their long life, there’s minimal risk of losing a light in the midst of an important procedure. Additionally, because LED lights produce multiple light points as opposed to a single point light source, physicians and surgeons will experience fewer shadows in operating and exam rooms. The dimmability of LED lights is another appealing quality, as healthcare workers can adjust the light output for the best observation illumination in Ultrasound and CT scan rooms.
All energy sources have some impact on the environment. Producing and using energy more efficiently greatly reduces the fuel needed to generate electricity. This results in fewer carbon emissions released into the atmosphere. The simple fact that LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting such as incandescent and fluorescent lights means fewer pollutants and far less environmental impact. Most of the energy from LEDs is converted into light as opposed to being wasted as heat which also bodes well for the planet.
In addition to fewer harmful emissions, LEDs don’t contain toxic elements like fluorescents which contain mercury. This means that fluorescent lights need to be properly disposed of, otherwise they’ll contaminate the environment. LED bulbs are not only made of 100% recyclable materials, but their longer lifespan means fewer bulbs, less manufacturing, and less shipping materials as waste products. Upgrading to LED lights can greatly reduce a hospital’s carbon footprint.
Cash-starved hospitals can be a little gun-shy about upgrading to LEDs because of the initial costs. Upfront expenses for quality LEDs are much higher than those of CFL, incandescent, and halogen bulbs. The savings over time, however, are quite significant, particularly for hospitals which operate 24 x 7 and are dependent on good lighting.
LEDs last 40-50x longer than incandescent bulbs on average, and about 2-3x longer than CFLs. CFL lifetimes are also impacted by environmental conditions and power cycling, so it’s likely that the difference is much greater. Not only can hospitals greatly reduce their energy bills–studies suggest by as much as 50%–but the bulbs themselves can last for 50,000 hours or more if properly engineered.
Better Lights, Better Health
More and more hospitals across the globe are starting to realize the benefits of upgrading to LED in their facilities. While the upfront costs can be high, the long-term savings and increased peace of mind that come with knowing your lights won’t likely go out in the middle of an appendectomy make upgrading to LEDs an appealing option. In addition, the overall effect of quality lighting on the well-being of patients, visitors, hospital staff and the environment makes LED lighting a virtual no-brainer for many healthcare facilities.