On: September 11, 2014 In: Tips and Information

The term, ‘Privacy glass’ is referred to by many names such as smart glass, switchable glass, e-glass, integral blinds, non-electric privacy glass or privacy glass windows, however the purpose of privacy glass is virtually the same throughout many industries.

In healthcare environments, privacy glass in its most basic form, is to allow privacy or observation when needed by the patient or healthcare provider.



Below is a list of 5 ways healthcare settings can use privacy glass
to enhance patient and staff well-being and care.

1. Patient Rooms

Privacy windows can be used in patient rooms as a form of infection control for staff members. By decreasing the need for nurses or other staff members to enter the patient’s room and expose themselves to infection, nurses and staff members can simply utilize the privacy glass to observe the patient while the door remains closed.

In addition, providing a dynamic environment between privacy and observation can enhance the comfort and well-being of the patient.

2. Staff Respite and Break Room Areas

1“Reducing stress and fatigue and providing ergonomically supportive spaces are now top-level goals,” confirms Carolyn BaRoss, design principal and firm-wide healthcare interior design director for Perkins+Will (New York). “It’s in healthcare organizations’ best interest to have happy and healthy staff who enjoy their workplace and are as effective as possible in it.”

Another major concern for design of healthcare settings is to provide staff members an environment where they can take a break and decompress in order to improve their work productivity. However, the largest design challenge is keeping these spaces private from the public eye while in the proximity of patients for immediate care. With privacy glass or windows installed in these areas, staff members can privately use a small allocated space for breaks, education, and respite while in proximity of patients.

3. Mental or Behavioral Health Settings

Mental or behavioral healthcare settings can prove to be a major challenge between balancing staff safety, patient care, and more importantly, patient safety. With many design methods utilized in these areas to create a safe environment for the patient, privacy and observation remains a concern.

Utilizing privacy glass in areas where safety is an issue can prove to be beneficial in many ways. In addition, some privacy glass options offer specialized handle operations and glazing types specifically designed for mental/behavioral healthcare settings to decrease safety hazards.

4. Operating Rooms

Many design variables are considered when creating an efficient and safe operating room or surgery center. Establishing an area that is free from infection, ergonomic for healthcare providers and available for observation from other healthcare providers, can be difficult.

With some privacy glass options, healthcare providers can simply use their elbow or forearm to operate the privacy window after they scrub in, thereby decreasing surface contamination and remain sanitized. In addition, other healthcare providers or students can observe the surgery taking place while standing behind closed doors.

5. Nursing Stations

Nursing stations are a vital life-source for healthcare settings as they are the control room for patient information. However, many design complications present themselves when a balance of availability, accessibility, privacy and noise control is required for patient well-being and work productivity of staff members. Utilizing privacy glass or windows for nursing stations can alleviate many of these challenges such as privacy and even noise control.

2[Privacy] glass as a barrier allows visibility [or privacy] while providing a barrier to keep people from leaning into the station – a solution to privacy in general as well. In addition, creating small workstations with panel divisions can provide for individual privacy.



1 Healthcare Design Magazine August 2014 edition by Barbara Horwitz-Bennett, www.HCDMagazine.com.

2 Herman Miller for Healthcare – Planning a Nurse Station for Clinical Function – http://www.alfredwilliams.com/prod_bro/research_summ/WP_NurseStnClinical.pdf