TUG Robot Is Working Harder Than Ever

TUG RobotThe autonomous mobile TUG robots, developed by Aethon, work 24/7 to deliver drugs, laboratory specimens, supplies, linens and meals and cart away medical waste, soiled linens and trash at a variety of medical centers throughout the U.S.

The TUG robot has a map of the hospital stored in its memory and uses a scanning laser and 27 infrared and ultrasonic sensors to detect and model the environment in real time to maintain accurate position and avoid obstacles. It stands back from elevators and summons them through the hospital’s wireless network, using radio waves to open doors. It even audibly speaks while performing its tasks and automatically returns to its charging dock after completing a delivery. The UCSF Medical Center is deploying a fleet of about two dozen TUG robots at its new state-of-the-art hospital at Mission Bay in San Francisco and TUG robots are installed at 35 VA hospitals.

This article is an update of a previous post.

See the TUG robot in action.

What 19th Century Technology is Still Thriving Today?

Pneumatic TubesEvery day, all around the world, hospital staff turn to a transport network that the Internet and the latest Silicon Valley wizardry cannot match — the pneumatic tube system. Designed primarily to move paper, this cutting edge technology in the 19th century drove commercial businesses — such as postal services and department stores — whose physical size demanded something faster than standard human pace. With the arrival of the Internet, pneumatic tube systems lost their value for many industries. But this technology not only endures — but thrives — in hospitals, particularly with the introduction of wider diameter containers and use of air flow to slow down the containers for a soft landing at their destination stations so to avoid damaging sensitive lab samples.

Read moreWhat 19th Century Technology is Still Thriving Today?

Estimating the Space Required for Central Sterile Processing

Square footage estimates per bed for the central sterile processing department can be unreliable due to the wide variance in the scope of surgical, obstetrical, and various other interventional services that are the primary users of the central sterile processing service. However, many healthcare institutions require only a basic instrument processing function with two steam sterilizers and one gas sterilizer. A third steam sterilizer may be provided at institutions with high-volume surgical and obstetrical services. The following guidelines can be used to develop a preliminary “order of magnitude” space estimate for a central sterile processing department. The lower range would be used for a central sterile processing function that is contiguous with the surgical suite. The higher range would accommodate a case cart system, the storage of hospital-wide patient equipment, and additional specialized sterilization equipment.

  • Minimal department with two steam sterilizers — 2,000 to 3,200 DGSF (185.8 to 297.3 DGSM)
  • Average department with two steam sterilizers and one gas sterilizers — 3,200 to 4,500 DGSF (297.3 to 418.1 DGSM)
  • Large department with three steam sterilizers and one gas sterilizers — 4,500 to 5,500 DGSF (418.1 to 511.0 DGSM)

Note: Department gross square feet/meters (DGSF/DGSM) represents the footprint of a department or functional component and includes the net area of the individual rooms as well as the space occupied by internal circulation corridors, walls/partitions, and minor utility shafts. More detailed information can be found in the SpaceMed Guide.

Hospital Data Centers Straining to Keep Up With New Demands

The hospital data center — once an onerous operational cost center — is now a critical component in delivering quality patient care, ensuring regulatory compliance, and enabling collaboration among caregivers. Hospital networks today support everything from traditional accounting to highly advanced remote surgery and diagnostic procedures using telemedicine. As use of digital imaging increases logarithmically so does the need to store more and more information — and in a wider variety of formats — that must be accessible in real time. Historically, stakeholder groups for data center projects consisted of information technology, facilities management, and security staff. Today, active participants may include the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Information Officer, compliance managers, sustainability managers, risk management staff, and a variety of physicians and other caregivers.

Read moreHospital Data Centers Straining to Keep Up With New Demands

Common Clinical Support Spaces

Whether a patient care area is used for patient exams and treatments, diagnostics, medical or surgical procedures, or for inpatient recuperation, associated space is needed to store and stage medical supplies, medications, nourishment, and equipment used in the department or nursing unit. These spaces are often referred to as “clinical support space” and are usually standardized throughout a healthcare facility. The generic rooms or areas listed in this article can be used for most patient care areas. The minimum sizes can generally support a wide range of exam/treatment rooms, procedure rooms, and inpatient beds. A further increase in workload or beds can usually be met with the addition of a second supply cart, bin, cabinet, etc. For very large departments or nursing units, an additional set of these spaces may be provided to reduce staff walking distances.

Read moreCommon Clinical Support Spaces

Substerile Rooms No Longer Advised for the Surgical Suite

In the traditional surgery suite design, operating rooms are grouped around a “sterile core” — from which case carts and sterile supplies are retrieved by the circulating nurse and taken into the operating rooms in preparation for surgery. A “substerile” room was typically placed between two operating rooms to provide “flash” or emergent sterilization of unwrapped items to be used immediately in the operating room. The sterile core often housed a sterilizer as well. Because the items were sterilized in open baskets that could be contaminated by improper handling and exposure during transport, the substerile rooms were placed as close as possible to the operating rooms and the sterile core was considered a restricted area.

Read moreSubsterile Rooms No Longer Advised for the Surgical Suite