Wellness While You Wait: Indoor Air Quality in Waiting Rooms

Health in the waiting room is a topic that patients need to be aware of due to the potential poor air quality and other bacteria present in waiting rooms.

Waiting is never a pleasant experience especially when it comes to time spent lingering in a doctor’s office. The subject of “health in the waiting room” has frequently been a topic of conversation, suggesting potentially pathogenic bacteria has been found on magazines and toys in clinics and medical waiting rooms.

Yet a study at Oslo University College in Oslo, Norway found low levels of contamination for some select bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. While the study did not target viral pathogens on high touch surfaces, the case for hygiene in the waiting room can definitely be argued.

Beyond physically touching areas of a waiting room that have been contaminated with bacteria, what about inhaling airborne pathogens?

You might not be aware of this statistic, but according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Indoor air quality can affect health, well-being, and productivity of occupants, employees, and visitors.

Indoor air quality is affected by particles in the air, chemical pollutants, and environmental contaminants. While there is no way to keep a common area like a waiting room germ-free, there are ways to boost the quality of the environment, making your time hanging around less painful as you wait for your healthcare provider or meetings.

1. Making the space welcoming.

Design consultants at Fuelfor, based in Barcelona, Spain, say improving the waiting room by way of aesthetics, nutritional options and comfortable seating that incorporates planters not only keeps the air fresh, but brings a positive approach from a comfort perspective, making wait time less of a hassle and another aspect of the wellness visit that promotes health.

2. Make it healthy to breathe.

Not everyone in the office waiting room is under the weather. While it’s easy to resist touching your face or sitting next to someone who is coughing up a lung, the risk of infection from airborne pathogens is unavoidable. The Venta Airwasher is the perfect air purifier for waiting rooms, as a high volume of waiting room traffic means an increase in the need for purified air. If you have allergies, Venta’s filterless dual-purpose system eliminates the air of viruses, pollen, and fine dust while making sure your air humidity is at optimal levels.

3. Speak up

We all share in the responsibility of creating a healthy environment and if you are noticing a lack in air quality management, bring your concerns to the attention of your physician if you are a patient, or to the manager if you are an employee. An easy suggestion for improved air quality is to add a humidifier and purifier to the space.

Accepting the fact that not everyone shares in the same opinion when it comes to optimal temperature, humidity and aesthetics of waiting rooms, it is necessary to be flexible and open to suggestion. There has been talk over the years of eliminating the waiting rooms and some health care organizations are making great strides in being more efficient and less wasteful of time spent at the doctor’s office, but until this streamlined approach is commonplace, repairing and replenishing indoor air is a solid first step towards wellness in the waiting room.