We’ve had the same basic design for tray tables for 40 to 50 years. It doesn’t work. The table is not easily moved. There are questions of control, clutter and contamination. And a huge problem revolves around who ‘owns’ the table at any particular time of the day.

In the early morning, the attending nurse ‘owns’ the table, using it for medicine or treatment devices necessary at that time. Then, food service ‘owns’ the table for placement of the meal. Later, the patient ‘owns’ the table for personal items.

It’s a back and forth all day long. There’s a meal and then there’s a urinal on the table. I always liken the hospital tray table to the ‘table’ you have when a passenger on an airplane. If the meal tray is still there, and you’re done with the meal on the airplane, you’re cramped. You need that space. It’s annoying. And just like the airplane experience, we are forced to tolerate the hospital tray-table experience. We need something better.

Charles Puchta, director of the Center for Aging with Dignity in UC’s College of Nursing, on a hospital tray redesign being undertaken by University of Cincinnati design students.  Love this stuff.

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