In healthcare settings, lighting isn’t just an aesthetic choice; it plays a pivotal role in patient recovery and the effectiveness of medical staff. Well-designed lighting can actively contribute to faster healing for patients while facilitating the tasks of healthcare providers and even improving the experience for visitors.

Image 1: Hospital Operation Room

For example, in the operating room (OR) optimal lighting is non-negotiable. When the lighting here is not up to standard, it can create and exacerbate a variety of challenges that come with surgical procedures, from environmental to operational complexities (Curlin & Herman, 2020).Good lighting, on the other hand, helps surgeons operate with increased accuracy and minimises the likelihood of errors. A study by Forrester et al. (2017)  highlights subpar lighting in under-resourced settings as a substantial risk factor, with almost a third of surveyed surgeons indicating that it has led to postponed or cancelled surgeries.

And it’s not just in the OR where lighting matters. Inadequate lighting can hinder a patient’s healing journey and even contribute to errors among healthcare staff (Jason B, 2022). So, quality lighting in healthcare isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have,’ it’s an absolute necessity for the well-being of patients, staff, and visitors alike.

Health Care Hallway

Image 2: Healthcare Hallway

Several elements must be considered when developing optimal lighting conditions for hospital operations. The primary objectives are twofold: to maintain the comfort and well-being of patients and to provide adequate lighting for examination, treatment, and observation. To achieve this, in this article we explore Glare, Luminous Efficacy, Lumen Maintenance, Warranty, Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT), Colour Rendering Index (CRI), Cyanosis Observation Index (COI), and Emergency.

  1. Glare:

    For enhancing both patient well-being and the effectiveness of medical procedures, it’s crucial to reduce glare from light fixtures. The Unified Glare Rating (UGR) serves as a standard developed by the CIE to gauge the level of discomfort glare from artificial lighting can cause.

    A Maximum UGR of 19 is commonly employed across multiple sections within healthcare establishments, such as endoscopic evaluation rooms, patient relaxation areas, various treatment zones, and front desks. However, this UGR specification isn’t universal. For rooms where patients lie down—like general wards or post-surgery recovery rooms—the typical UGR standards don’t necessarily apply. Additionally, operating rooms lack a set upper limit for UGR due to their specialised lighting requirements.

    AS/NZS 1680.2.5 outlines the specifics in its Appendix F, dividing treatment areas into three primary categories:

    a. Type A areas – Maximum UGR: Not specified. These are locations where procedures requiring anaesthesia or intravenous sedation are performed. Cyanosis observation lighting might be needed here.

    b. Type B areas – Maximum UGR: 19. These are spaces where monitoring of the patient’s skin colour is essential, but anaesthesia or intravenous sedation is also needed.

    c. Type C areas – Maximum UGR: 19. These are designated as general examination and treatment rooms.

    For a comprehensive understanding of glare guidelines specific to medical facilities, consult Section 8 and Appendix F of AS/NZS 1680.2.5.

  2. Luminous Efficacy, Lumen Maintenance, and Warranty

    According to VHBA HTG-2020-002, each light fixture in a healthcare environment is required to have a luminous efficacy of at least 100 lumens per watt, a lifespan exceeding 50,000 hours, and a warranty period of no less than five years.

  3. Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) and Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

    Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) and Colour Rendering Index (CRI) are vital for visual tasks that involve distinguishing colours. According to AS/NZS 1680.2.5:2018, these tasks include:

    a. Evaluating patient skin tones to identify issues like cyanosis and jaundice
    b. General patient assessments for skin conditions
    c. Administering diagnostic tests reliant on colour
    For accurate colour discrimination, lighting should have a CCT ranging from 3300K to 5300K and a CIE general colour rendering index of a minimum of 80. For rooms specifically designated for general dermatological evaluations, the CRI should be no less than 85.

    Therefore, both CCT and CRI are imperative for maintaining both comfort and visual accuracy in healthcare settings.

  4. Cyanosis Observation Index (COI)

    Cyanosis refers to a bluish tint appearing on the skin or mucous membranes, usually caused by inadequate blood circulation or insufficient oxygen levels in the blood. Key areas to check for this condition include the cheeks, nose, ears, and oral mucosa, as these locations have thin skin layers and rich blood flow. Proper lighting is crucial for an accurate physical examination of cyanosis; inadequate lighting can lead to a flawed assessment (Adeyinka, 2023).

    Image 3: Cyanosis Skin 

    Per the guidelines in AS/NZS 1680.2.5:2018, any lighting utilised for conditions conducive to identifying cyanosis should have a Cyanosis Observation Index (COI) no greater than 3.3. A lower COI value indicates that the light source is more apt for the visual detection of this condition. Additionally, such lighting must have a CCT between 3300K and 5300K and a CRI greater than 80. For a more detailed understanding of how COI is calculated, consult Appendix G of AS/NZS 1680.2.5.

  5. Emergency
    Healthcare services run around the clock, making the reliability of hospital systems, including lighting, absolutely essential. According to AS/NZS 2293.1:2018, emergency lighting must meet several criteria:a. Preventing light blockage
    b. Minimizing glare
    c. Safeguarding against unauthorised lamp removalFor a comprehensive understanding of the Installation Requirements for Emergency Luminaires, you can consult Section 4 of AS/NZS 2293.1:2018. These considerations are vital to maintain uninterrupted operations and ensure the safety and comfort of healthcare providers, patients, and visitors.

Mlight Group offers specialised lighting solutions that meet healthcare standards, including those for detecting Cyanosis as outlined in AS/NZS 1680.2.5:2018. We’re proud of our Kleo X Range and Solace lines, both featuring a CRI of 90+ and a Cyanosis Observation Index (COI) that’s 3.3 or lower, all certified by NATA.

Our Kleo X Range even won the IES VIC/TAS Chapter Lighting Innovation Award of Commendation in 2019. It’s available in three widths—58mm, 78mm, and 105mm—so you can tailor it to fit your space.

Solace has its own unique feature: an angled design that lets you direct light where it’s most needed, making it a good fit for hospital bed heads.