Healthcare facilities like hospitals are held to a higher standard when it comes to indoor air quality. Hospitals are expected to protect patients and healthcare workers from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and other occupational illnesses. Due to the nature of its operations, hospitals are breeding grounds for airborne pathogens that could potentially cause infections and outbreaks. Hospitals are required to comply with regulatory standards on specific air quality factors such as ventilation rate, temperature, and humidity level among others. But hospitals need to go beyond “code-minimum” when it comes to ensuring an environment that is safe, healthy, and comfortable for its patients and healthcare staff. Failure to do so not only poses serious health consequences but also affects the productivity of the staff, compromises the hospital’s reputation and its ability to get funding and increase HAI-related complaints and legal actions. Poor indoor air quality can also impact on the performance of the hospital’s critical equipment and systems, as maintenance and repair can lead to delays in procedures.
The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” holds true for hospitals when it comes to indoor air quality management. By understanding the components that can impact indoor air quality, hospital administrators can properly design and develop a process to ensure that pollutants contributing to poor indoor air quality are taken into consideration and thus minimized. With good indoor air quality, doctors and nurses are kept healthy, able to provide the best care to their patients, which leads to a reduction of hospital-acquired infections, shortened patient recovery time, and lower mortality rate. Having real-time visibility on indoor air quality factors can help facility managers to identify environments that face higher risks and implement appropriate approaches to mitigate them. Air quality data can also provide valuable insights that can help in developing a risk management plan which includes proper education and training of health care workers, compliance with, and adoption of best safety and sanitation practices to prevent HAIs.