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Estimating Low and High Space per Bed for

Inpatient Units
Originally printed in the
SpaceMed Newsletter
Winter 2011

There is significant variation in the nursing unit space per bed from project to project regardless of whether the number of beds will be accommodated in new construction or in a reconfiguration of existing space. Historically, this variation was
attributed to the mix of private, semiprivate, and multiple-bed patient rooms. Even
though most hospital building projects in the U.S. today are planned with all private
patient rooms, the total space required to support a specific number of beds continues to vary. Contributing factors include the size and layout of the private patient
room and adjoining toilet/shower room, the specific grouping of the patient rooms
within the unit, the amount of family, visitor, and staff amenities provided on the
floor, and the extent of point-of-care clinical and support services.
The pie chart below graphically displays the range in net square feet (NSF) for the
four major categories of space on an inpatient nursing unit. These ranges can vary
within each category for any given project. The overall design and layout of the
floor itself generally impacts the specific NSF to department gross square feet
(DGSF) conversion factor.
A more detailed explanation of the types of space included in these categories and
other factors that contribute to the range and NSF and DGSF per bed can be found
in the article "Nursing Unit Space Per Bed Can Vary Significantly: Factors That
Impact Space Allocation" in the Winter 2010 issue of the SpaceMed Newsletter.
Common Staff
Support Space
9 to 54 NSF/Bed

7 to 23 NSF/Bed

Nursing Unit
Support Space
50 to 100 NSF/Bed

Patient Room
280 to 340 NSF/Bed


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Estimating Low and High Space per Bed for

Inpatient Units



Net Square Feet

Per Bed

Net Square Feet

Per Bed

Patient Room Module



Includes the patient room and contiguous toilet/shower room.

Nursing Unit Support Space



Includes all necessary clinical support

and staff administrative space that is directly associated with the management
and care of patients on the nursing unit.

Common Family/
Visitor Amenities


Includes family/visitor lounge and other


Common Staff Support Space


Includes staff offices, lockers and

lounge facilities, and other space that
may or may not be located within the
nursing unit.

Total Net Square Feet per Bed



Sum of above components.

Total Department Gross

Square Feet per Bed



Assumes a NSF to DGSF conversion

factor of 1.45 to 1.55.



Note: Department gross square feet (DGSF) represents the "footprint" of a department or functional component and includes the net square feet (NSF) of the individual rooms as well as the space occupied by internal circulation corridors,
walls/partitions, and minor utility shafts; DGSF excludes common areas such as shared public corridors and lobbies, elevator banks, stairwells, major mechanical spaces, and the space occupied by the building's exterior wall.

Source: SpaceMed Guide.


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