Hospital Lighting Guide & Standards

In hospital settings, there are many visual tasks with unique lighting demands. Therefore the lighting should be designed to achieve high efficiency, hygiene, safety, and well-being of medical staff and patients.

Hospital staff works under high-stress conditions. Proper lighting is required for them to perform meticulous tasks that might mean life or death for patients. If surgeons don’t see the inside of a patient’s body correctly, for example, fatal mistakes could occur.

At the same time, lighting plays a crucial role in patients’ recovery progress; proper lighting improves sleep, reduces depression, and balances the body’s circadian rhythm. In many cases, patients stay for long in hospitals because of poor ward lighting. Read on for exhaustive details on hospital lighting standards and design guidelines.
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The critical requirements for proper lighting in a hospital include:

  • High visual  performance: Health workers need to be able to  see what they are doing with speed and accuracy
  • Visual comfort: The lighting should guarantee the psychological and physiological well-being of staff and patients.
  • Safety: Hospital lighting should help to achieve high safety standards and aid in the discernment of dangers inherent in that environment.

Hospital lighting fixtures

Seven and four reflector theater lights  

Halogen lamps with filters are used to achieve a natural-like kind of light in the OR. They are 12 v bulbs with a color temperature of about 4200 +/- 300 degrees K.

Fluorescent light sources with low heat output can also be used in the OR as per the ANSI hospital lighting design guidelines.

LED, FTL, and CFL lamps

They are used in the patients’ wards. They should have a zero glare with uniform lumen distribution. These fixtures are also used in corridors and circulation areas.

Mobile type luminance

This lighting fixture is maneuverable on a trolley with castors. It can be tilted and swiveled as needed to enhance focus. It is mostly used for examination purposes.

Hospital Lighting Guide: Quick View

Area Illumination standard  (lx) Colour rendition (Ra)
Ward 50-100 80
First aid  ward 500-1000 80
Operation room (general) 1000 90
Operation room (working table) 20,000- 40,000 90
Operating room (x-ray ward) 0-100 80
Maternity ward (delivery bed) 5000-10000 90
Maternity ward (delivery area) 250-500 80
Exam room 200-500 90
ICU (around beds) 100-200 90
ICU (checking area) 500-1000 90
Corridor 100-200 80
Waiting room  200 80
Office(general) 300 80
Office (examination) 1000 90


For proper ward lighting, you need 100 lux between the beds and 300 lux on the BED in the central ward area. The goal is to achieve A comfortable luminaire over each bed. You can consider other supplementary lighting sources, as well.

Try to reduce glare and the intensity of light that falls on the patients.  There are many approaches here, including luminaires that are wall or ceiling mounted.  Luminaires that are installed on opposite walls can often have excessive glare than ceiling mounted ones.

On color rendering, the CRI should not be less than 80, and the lights should have a CCT of 4,000K. Where examinations are carried out in the ward, a CRI of 90 will be required. That can be from a mobile examination lamp.

Outpatient lighting

The goals here include achieving a comfortable lighting environment so that patients can communicate well with doctors.  It should also be easy for doctors to get a proper diagnosis in your outpatient lighting design.

The standard source of outpatient lighting is an LED lamp that is elegant and simple, with the illumination of 300lx or so. For a warmer relaxed atmosphere, consider a 4000K e narrow beam downlight situated directly above the patient’s position. The illumination can range between 300 and 500lx.

Emergency room

The ER is an outpatient setting where emergency diagnoses and treatments are done. You can use a 6000K white light ranging between 300 and 500lx. This design will help to create a clean emergency environment for an accurate diagnosis.

Laboratory section

In a lab venue, the main focus of the lighting is on observation and homework. This environment should be bright and free of glare. The standard illuminance is between 300 and 500lx.

Also, remember that labs often have medical equipment that can be sensitive to light. Your lighting design should consider the essential factors that affect the lab’s general lighting environment and the impact on medical equipment.

Physiological exam room

In a physiological examination room, the lighting should facilitate easy observation, and create a comfortable atmosphere for patients and doctors. The illumination needs not to be too high; the standard illumination here is 150-300lx.

The operating room

The lighting design in the OR should take into account electrical safety, optical bio-safety, and electromagnetic compatibility with surgical equipment. The standard luminance is >20,000 lx for the operating table.

The color development should be as high as possible to increase the health expert’s ability to focus on blood, lesion Tissue, blood, and other color changes during a procedure. There should also be emergency lighting in the OR for backup.


Pharmacy lighting is most often overlooked, yet it is just as vital as OR lighting. Drugs in pharmacies might have labeling font that is too small, or the pharmacist may be dispensing drugs fast; hence, the need for high visual accuracy.

The recommended standard luminance in a pharmacy environment is more than 500lx.

Also, pharmacies should have both horizontal illumination and vertical illumination.

Supplementary hospital lighting

Other lighting fixtures for hospital workplace lighting include:


  1. Surgical headlights

Where pendant arm lighting cannot be used in an OR, LED surgical headlights might help to improve the surgeon’s visibility and mobility. There are no shadows cast by the surgeon’s head. Then again, they remove the hassle of having to make light readjustments during a procedure.

  1. Office reading lamps

Doctors need to be able to write and review their patient notes under the right lighting conditions. Desk lamps help to improve visual accuracy during the process. The supplementary light may help to minimize the discomfort from fluorescent lights.

  1. Heat therapy lamps

These are infrared LED lights that can be used to accelerate the healing process for patients with inflammation, ulcers, wounds, and persistent pain. Heat therapy bulbs can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of mental conditions, such as depression and dementia.

  1. Germicidal lamps

There is a high risk of airborne and other types of infections in a hospital. Apart from having the proper lighting for doctor’s procedures and patient’s comfort, consider acquiring ultraviolet disinfecting light fixtures that you can use in the cleaning process. They will help to destroy biological contamination in the air and on surfaces.

Hospital lighting standards are all about improving energy efficiency in guaranteeing visual accuracy for hospital staff and comfort for patients. The guideline, as outlined above, can also help to achieve compliance with ANSI standards for improved caregiving.