Sick Bay Suggestions?

Sickbay, Battleship HMS Nelson, 1940

I have a friend who is looking at improving ships’ sick bays. I could not really offer any suggestions, but perhaps you can.

I don’t expect a lot of responses, but perhaps some of you can help even if you think the suggestion is minor. Please add a comment.

What improvements, additions, or changes might make ships’ sick bays more useful? more flexible? more capable? More accessible?

Do we need more privacy? Connectivity to advice from ashore? Robotic assistance?

7 thoughts on “Sick Bay Suggestions?

  1. I notice that the Sick-bay Beds are appear to mounted on Pivot Points to orientate the beds in relationship to the relative motion of the ship while at sea. Constant rocking motion must of felt like hell on anyone trying to get a goodnight of sleep and especially hard on those trying to recover from a injury where any motion can open wounds by applying excessive pressure to the wounds…

  2. When ship is in the design phase, sick bays should be located for easy access both inside and outside the vessel. I recommend the main deck and for a better ride, midships..

  3. Pingback: Sick Bay Suggestions? — Chuck Hill’s CG Blog | Ups Downs Family History

  4. Sick Bay Design:

    1. Nightime lighting (Red/Blue)
    2. Large doors to accommodate stretchers and stokes litters.
    3. Direct access to outside decks and/or helo deck.
    4. Plethora of overhead and bulkhead handrails.
    5. Separate showers and toilets.
    6. Computer workstation and exam area.
    7. Two separate refrigerators/freezers.
    8. Plethora of emergency lighting enabling medical procedures during power outages.
    9. Multiple floor drains for washing and decontamination.
    10. Bulkhead storage for stokes litter and emergency medical response gear.
    11. Communications systems to bridge, flight deck, boat deck, etc.
    12. Autoclave for sterilization.
    13. Large sink.
    14. Lockable controlled substance locker.
    15. Multiple beds.

    CW4 Michael W. Carr (US Army Retired)
    Haze Gray Maritime LLC
    US Army Watercraft Master
    US Navy Diving & Salvage Officer
    Cell: 772-888-5207

  5. Two needs; first, during primary and secondary treatment phase and second, during rest/healing phase. Treatment phase requires adequate space and power sources for lighting, equipment and access to the bed/patient, enabling examination, testing and potential surgery. All need to be steady during movement of the ship. Venting and sterilization are important. While curtains can contain or limit exposures, separate rooms or alcoves allow for better organization and patient management. During the rest/healing phase, more important needs are quiet and patient comfort which include patient monitoring, noise mitigation, and maintaining sterility. All demand close proximity to medical staff, equipment and supplies. Also adequate lighting, ventilation and aids to help instability [handholds, wheel chocks, etc.]. Nothing supports healing better than allowing the patient adequate rest in a comfortable, quiet environment.

  6. Having served one tour afloat as a corpsman, I would say that to the extent possible, sick bay should be as “unshiplike” and as “unclinical” as possible. It sounds lame but color, sounds, and the overall environment has an unmeasured but none the less real impact on on our patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

  7. Got the following as an E-Mail:

    Good afternoon. I tried to leave a comment but can’t seem to make it work.

    I design furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) for mobile field hospitals and command posts. Clients include DoD, FEMA, VA, Salvation Army and many others. I never thought about ship sick bays but I do have 3 initial recommendations.

    First, I would install “adaptive care” facilities. These take up very little space and allow acute care (normal hospital care), minor procedures and imaging to take place without moving the patient. Less patient moves directly correlates to improved health care outcomes.

    Second, I recommend having a number of portable headwall modules on board. These are easily moved (two man lift) pieces of equipment that provide acute care services. This includes power, data, oxygen, medical air, suction, lighting and nurse call button. This equipment is entirely self contained and requires no power draw on the ship. It allows any compartment to be converted into an acute care facility. Obviously, this would be of great use in a mass casualty event.

    Finally, I second the recommendation of another poster. Evidence based design using soothing colors and lighting is known to result in improved health care outcomes.

    All of these suggestions are simple to implement, do not require modification of the ship and can be done in very tight confines. As an example you can look at some designs at

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or would like to see more detailed information.


    Marc Diaz

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