The modern hospital, clinic, or outpatient facility is a maze of hallways, patient wards, treatment and operating rooms, laboratories, and offices. Clear, highly visible signage is essential for guiding patients, vendors, and staff members and directing emergency vehicles and visitors as they approach the building.
Why Signs Are Important in Healthcare Facilities
Appropriate healthcare signage is crucial for many reasons. For instance, people visiting a hospital or clinic to undergo a testing procedure are already under a great deal of stress. Signs can help alleviate their anxiety by making it easier to get to the right spot. Bright, colorful signs can also make frightened children feel more at ease.
Signs can provide information that educates patients and visitors. Individuals can learn more about hospital policies and protocols, such as when signing in for a stay or receiving instructions for testing procedures.
Healthcare facilities can also use signs to enhance internal communications between staff members and ensure compliance with health and safety signage regulations.
Types of Health Facility Signs
Examples of the many types of hospital, healthcare clinic, and practice signs include:
- Wayfinding: These signs simplify navigation through a sprawling hospital layout. They can consist of everything from overhead or wall-mounted digital signs to room number indicators and colored floor markings.
- Identification: Use this signage to clearly indicate specific rooms or other areas within the facility. Exterior hospital parking signs differentiate between designated visitor and staff parking areas.
- Safety and compliance: This signage is essential for ensuring compliance with OSHA and ANSI regulations.
Examples of Health and Safety Signs
Given the need to follow strict health and safety protocols in a healthcare environment, these facilities utilize signage such as:
- Caution: A caution sign typically reminds individuals to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, or surgical gowns before entering a designated area.
- Social distancing: The COVID-19 outbreak has created the need for healthcare facilities to install signs that remind patients and visitors to maintain a safe distance.
- ADA: Hospitals and clinics must place signs to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
- Medical waste disposal: Medial facilities use signage that outlines the steps for the appropriate disposal of used PPE, body fluid, and other materials.
Requirements for Healthcare Signage
Most states require hospitals and other healthcare facilities to post signs related to patient rights and consent issues. For example, California facilities need signage to comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) provisions. This federal law stipulates that any patient who seeks treatment in an emergency room must receive it regardless of their ability to pay or whether they have health insurance.
Other signage requirements may apply to areas like patients’ rights to file complaints or grievances and information involving prostate or breast cancer screenings.