Rethinking hospital general ward ventilation design using computational fluid dynamics

R. Yam, P. L. Yuen, R. Yung, T. Choy

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Indoor ventilation with good air quality control minimises the spread of airborne respiratory and other infections in hospitals. This article considers the role of ventilation in preventing and controlling infection in hospital general wards and identifies a simple and cost-effective ventilation design capable of reducing the chances of cross-infection. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis is used to simulate and compare the removal of microbes using a number of different ventilation systems. Instead of the conventional corridor air return arrangement used in most general wards, air return is rearranged so that ventilation is controlled from inside the ward cubicle. In addition to boosting the air ventilation rate, the CFD results reveal that ventilation performance and the removal of microbes can be significantly improved. These improvements are capable of matching the standards maintained in a properly constructed isolation room, though at much lower cost. It is recommended that the newly identified ventilation parameters be widely adopted in the design of new hospital general wards to minimise cross-infection. The proposed ventilation system can also be retrofitted in existing hospital general wards with far less disruption and cost than a full-scale refurbishment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Airborne respiratory diseases
  • Hospital general ward
  • Infection control
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Ventilation design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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