At the intersection of science and medicine, there’s pathology.
This is the study of diseases, and — for fairly obvious reasons — it’s a huge field right now. Pathology labs are growing at an unprecedented rate, and that means more people are asking about how to design a pathology lab.
This means that we know how to design anything. Today, we’ll be examining pathology labs.
Pathology Lab Design Requirements
The first step of any laboratory design is reviewing the requirements. Every laboratory has its own set of requisite supplies, materials, and machinery.
Like any laboratory, pathology labs will be fully stocked with plenty of “small” items. These are the basic supplies every lab needs to run smoothly, and they are typically stored in cabinets and drawers. Designers need to consider all of these items, and functional solutions will need to be created to house them.
Within a pathology lab, you’ll likely find:
- HBA1C machines
- Microscopic slides
- Personal protective equipment
Large Machinery and Supplies
In addition to these basic needs, pathology labs have their own unique supplies. These items are large and heavy, which means that they will not be moved frequently (if at all).
Nonetheless, they will impact the pathology lab interior design considerably.
The designers and contractors of OnePointe Solutions know this, and we’ve worked with plenty of different clients, — including Reed Food Technology, RevoChem LLC, and The Women Global Cancer Initiative — and we know the needs of your lab.
In a pathology lab, our designers will need to take into account items such as:
- Biosafety cabinets and storage
- Fridges and freezers
- New and existing ductwork
- Organ baths
- Staining equipment
Finally, every lab must have ample safety measures in place for its workers.
On the most basic level, a pathology lab will need:
- Emergency showers
- Eye wash stations
- First aid supplies
- Fume hoods
- Secure storage
- Secure waste management
How Are Pathology Labs Designed?
Once all of these considerations have been taken care of, it’s time for the designers to start working. Equipped with a full overview of their available space, a laboratory architect will need to figure out how to create a functional space that meets all of the client’s needs.
In addition to the individual whims of the client, a pathology lab designer will also need to consider factors such as:
- Access to equipment and safety measures
- Access to large machinery for both daily use and maintenance
- Accommodations for future expansion
- Emergency procedure effectiveness
- Entry and exit points
- Overall workflow
- Secure disposal sites
- Storage spaces
Because these facilities will be handling highly sensitive samples, they require a high degree of precision. This means that proper pathology labs will be divided into four distinct sections: receiving, processing, storage, and documentation.
This is generally accomplished by using dividers to partition the space into three distinct sections. The large laboratory area is the central feature; processing, storage, and documentation are grouped together at the periphery of the building.
There are, however, many different ways to tackle this issue.
In front-facing laboratories, the designer will also need to add a fifth section as a patient waiting room. As with all of the other parts of the lab, this must be a secure area, and there should be no possible way for a patient to wander into the laboratory.
Pathology Lab Design Layout
The first thing designers will consider is the layout of the laboratory.
Taking into account the requisite division of working spaces, designers will need to create a central setup that meets all of the following needs:
- Direct access to delivery zones
- Easy access to all emergency supplies, equipment, and exits
- Open communication with other departments and disciplines
- Quick and easy access to storage and processing
- Secure storage and processing
Depending on where the laboratory is located, these considerations will be further complicated by adjacent facilities. This is to say that many pathology labs are located within hospitals, and the facility must be accessible to the many other departments in accordance with their needs.
These additional departments may include:
- Emergency departments
In these situations, workers within the pathology department should be able to easily access the main hospital. In addition to providing these workers with the comradery of a wider workforce, this expanded access ultimately links workers to the amenities offered by the hospital — such as break rooms and cafeterias.
Spatial Division and Layout
In addition to storage, designers will also need to create four distinct areas: receiving, storage, processing, and documentation. In some situations, a waiting room will also need to be added
Often, these areas will be blocked off in advance with interior walls and structural features. However, this is not always true.
In situations where the designer faces a massive open layout, they will need to use lab-grade partitions to safely and clearly define the boundaries between each working space. At OnePointe Solutions, our partitions are highly customizable, featuring the ability to include openings for wiring, shelving, and more.
Storage Access and Availability
Once the basics have been laid out, designers move to storage.
Pathology labs require a huge amount of sterility to operate properly. To maintain this cleanliness, staff utilize a mix of practical furnishings, standardized operation procedures, and regular thorough cleansing.
On a practical level, pathology labs will generally use medical-grade casework. At OnePointe Solutions, we fabricate everything in-house, so we offer a wide variety of options, colors, and styles. This means that the gorgeous casework used within the laboratory can also be used in front-facing waiting rooms, creating a sense of interior unity.
Metal casework — particularly aluminum and stainless steel — is also commonly used in pathology labs. This is one of the most sterile solutions, as steel is a non-porous surface that can resist bacteria, mildew, mold, and odors.
When stainless steel cabinets are used, an alternative material is usually utilized in the waiting room. Phenolic resin and plastic laminate are the most common choices, as they offer a wide range of customization. Their aesthetic appeal is paired with plenty of durability.
Ample access to secure storage should also be provided. Pathology labs handle sensitive personal material. The samples in a pathology lab have the potential to be vectors for disease, and they must be treated appropriately.
In order to do this, laboratories have a complex set of standard procedures, which dictate how to dispose of samples and used testing equipment. When not undergoing tests, samples are stored in secure biosafety cabinets.
All of this cabinetry will need to be accompanied by plenty of working space.
Lab islands and cabinets are paired with laboratory countertops, and the specifics are determined by the client’s needs. Generally, pathology labs use Durcon lab-grade phenolic resin or stainless steel.
Both options provide plenty of durability and functionality. However, phenolic resin tops are considered more aesthetically pleasing in front-facing situations.
Nonetheless, OnePointe Solutions can make stainless steel countertops work for you, as we offer a variety of finishes and stains.
Aside from the static workspaces, labs will need to have flexible working surfaces. These tables are essential for testing large amounts of material.
One of the most adaptable solutions to working space is OnePointe Solutions’ FLEX system. Our modular FLEX systems are fully equipped with adjustable height desks, and their customized layout can include plumbing connections, power connections, and hookups for gas. The functionality can be further enhanced with the addition of multiple accessories, such as drying racks, shelving, and built-in cabinetry.
OnePointe Solutions also offers an array of adjustable microscope tables, which are specially designed to provide an ergonomic experience. The powder-coated frame is incredibly durable, and anti-vibration levelers give the casters an unprecedented amount of stability.
For every other need that a pathology laboratory may have, we also offer classic stainless steel tables. Like all of our other products, these are custom-machined solutions, which means that they can be built to your unique specifications.
If necessary, a rolling table can include supplies for attaching a shelving unit, drying rack, tool balancing mount, and more.
All of these portable solutions are essential to future-proofing labs, which may face unprecedented challenges in the future.
Comfortable Working Spaces
At the end of the process, designers will add the final touches.
We’re proud of our attention to detail, which is why we also offer a full range of fully customizable office furniture. This furniture can be customized to match your lab, creating a gorgeous interior flow between the laboratory and the waiting room or documentation areas.
Depending on how extensive a project may be, we also offer breakroom furniture, and we can design a gorgeous, functional breakroom for your hardworking staff.
Need Help Designing Your Pathology Lab?
Regardless of your needs, it’s safe to say that you need expert help when you’re designing a pathology laboratory. You need a space that is secure enough to keep samples safe and accessible enough for workers to feel comfortable.
At OnePointe Solutions, we’ve worked with laboratories across the United States. We’ve helped plenty of people create the laboratory of their dreams, and we’re ready to help you, too.
We can design and manufacture laboratory cabinets, custom workbenches, and tables, and also provide lab-grade countertops, sinks, fume hoods, and other necessary lab furniture to make sure your pathology lab is equipped to perform its duties.