Therefore, facilities for screening of all OPD patients should be planned lest specialist clinics get overburdened with cases that could be disposed off in general OPD clinics, especially in large hospitals.
This purpose is served by a polyclinic system and the structural requirements of the OPD incorporating the polyclinic will depend on the number of specialist departments. OPD is a fast growing component of the hospital.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide for expansion of the department. In many cases, outpatient departments built only some years back have been found to be too small within few years because of increased demand, growth of specialties and desirability of carrying out increasing range of investigative procedures on OPD basis.
Therefore, the OPD has to be planned with a measure of adaptability in its internal arrangement as well as a capacity for growth.
A multistoried building may not be suitable for the OPD and a single-storey structure may be more practical from this point of view.
On an average, 2 to 3 outpatients for each hospital bed attend the OPD per day. Space will be required for a reception and enquiry counter in the main waiting area near the OPD entrance.
The number of examination rooms will depend upon the expected load. The “holding capacity” of an OPD needs to be considered keeping in view the number of persons that accompany each patient.
Generally, each patient is accompanied by one, two or sometimes even more attendants, friends and relatives.
In an OPD which expects 100 outpatients a day, place for up to thrice that number may have to be considered in respect to main waiting area, subsidiary waiting areas, toilet facilities, parking facilities and for the smooth flow of large numbers.
However, as all outpatients do not arrive at the same time, the facilities will have to be planned on the basis of peak time loads.
A minor operation theatre to attend to minor surgical conditions will be an integral part of the OPD. Other adjunct services that form part of the OPD complex are laboratory specimen collection centre, injection room, dressing room, plaster room and pharmacy.
As part of the administrative back-up, space for registration counters and for OPD medical records have to be catered for at appropriate places. In a polyclinic system, there may be one main registration counter with sub-registration counters for each specialist clinic.
Similarly, the requirement for OPD medical records will depend upon whether it is planned to hold them at one central place or stored at specialist clinics.
Office space for OPD coordinator in large hospitals: a great deal of coordination on a continuous basis between various constituents of the outpatient department is required for which an outpatient department administrator or coordinator is appointed. Office space will have to be provided for this purpose in the OPD.