A physician weighs in on how poorly designed hospitals can hinder recovery or even increase illness and injury.

Hospitals are among the most expensive types of buildings to construct, with complex infrastructures, technologies and safety codes driving up overall costs. But mounting evidence shows that we may be building hospitals wrong – and the design flaws may be doing harm. These flaws haven’t gone unnoticed by physicians, who spend long hours in facilities and see firsthand how environments can help (or hamper) healing. In a recent essay in the New York Times, Dhruv Khullar, M.D, a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, looks into research that probes the impact of faulty hospital design.

Khullar points to studies that show how poorly designed hospital rooms contribute to airborne infections, injuries from falls, noise exposure and even invasion of privacy. He points to one study in particular that examines the connection between hospital design and the role of nature to promote healing:

Research pioneered by Roger Ulrich, now a professor of architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, suggests that when it comes to recovering from illness, the more nature the better. But too often patients and physicians find themselves cooped up in dim rooms and sterile hallways with little access to natural light or views of nature: too much concrete, not enough jungle.

Khullar identifies a need to change the way we design, build and work in hospitals, and suggests that evidence-based care calls for evidence-based design. Read more about the research and Khullar’s observations in the full article.