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  • Writer's pictureBHFC Design Consulting

Bathrooms Balance Comfort, Safety

By: Barba, Lindsay | This article was originally published in Behavioral Healthcare Executive.

According to the Joint Commission, 75 percent of inpatient suicides take place in the bathroom, bedroom, or closet. While not every patient is intent on self-harm, facilities cannot afford the risk - both financial and moral - of leaving open opportunities for suicide or self-harm in the built environment, particularly in patient bathrooms. To learn about reducing risk in patient bedrooms, see "Furnishing a high-risk area" at

"The reality is that when patients do commit acts of self-harm, it's typically a complete surprise to staff on the unit," says David Sine, CSP, ARM, co-author of the Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities. ,"You have to design spaces that anticipate that there will be unforeseen attempts at self-harm."

However, Sine and co-author James Hunt, AlA, caution against designing spaces that are "so institutional" that they get in the way of recovery, rather than promote it. To effectively balance the desire for a comfortable, homelike patient bathroom wirh patient safety needs, Sine and Hunt share strategies for inpatient design from their guide.


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