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Inpatient bathroom location options

February 21, 2014
by James M. Hunt, AIA
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Bathroom location options

Where to locate the patient bathroom within a patient bedroom can be a very controversial issue with strong feelings voiced by many.  This blog will discuss the options and the positive and negative aspects of each for new construction projects.  Remodeling projects usually have existing plumbing locations that would be cost prohibitive to relocate.   As with most issues, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, in my opinion.

The FGI Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Healthcare Facilities section 2.5- states that “Each patient shall have access to a toilet room without having to enter a corridor.”  Therefore, this discussion will be limited to this condition.


The choices to be made when evaluating the options are:

  • Ease of staff to access or check on patients in the bathroom
  • Creation of blind spots that allow patients hiding places within the bedroom
  • Amount of exterior wall that is available for windows 

I will assume that very good arrangement of furniture, patient movement patterns and overall character of the room can be provided by skilled designers for any of the options discussed below.  Of course, other design factors need to be taken into account such as the overall footprint of the building, the resulting length of the wings, size and shape of the site and many other project specific elements that are too varied to explore here.


Three basic locations will be explored:

   A. Adjacent to the corridor wall

   B. Adjacent to the exterior wall

   C. Stacked, one in each location for two adjacent rooms.


This location provides the easiest access to the room by staff, but also often results in blind spots that patients can use to hide.  It also provides the maximum amount of exterior wall that can contain windows and natural daylight. 


This location eliminates the blind spot and allows for good overall observation of the room by staff upon entering the room.  The entrance to the bathroom is not close to the entrance to the bedroom and requires staff to walk across the room to check the bathroom if necessary.  The length of exterior wall that is available for windows is reduced. 


This option has one bathroom against the corridor wall and one against the exterior wall.  It results in rectangular bedrooms without blind spots for hiding and allows more exterior windows than the exterior wall placement and fewer windows than the corridor wall solution.  One bathroom entrance is obviously closer to the corridor than the other.


The best answer to this question for each facility will depend on how much importance the decision makers give to each of the three criteria.


Jim Hunt

Behavioral Healthcare Design Consultant

Jim Hunt

James M. Hunt, AIA, is a practicing architect and facility management professional with over 40...

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