Getting the design layout right for your clinic’s operating room is essential to the success of your veterinary practice.   It’s the one room where aesthetics takes a back seat and functionality, sterility and workflow are the key drivers of the design process.

Veterinary clinic operating room design

In this blog we explore some of the key elements and considerations when it comes to the design of your veterinary clinic operating room.

Achieving an Efficient Workflow

When considering the layout of your operating room, the first thing to consider is size. This is one room where you can’t cut corners on space. The room needs to be large enough so all required staff members can move easily.  It also needs to have space for surgical instruments and anesthetic equipment. 

While every surgery is different, you’ll still find that much of the movement in your operating room during a surgical procedure is quite similar.

To map out the requirements that accompany these workflows, consider where your veterinary staff need to locate and use certain items. This may include electrical sockets for equipment, areas for discarding used tools, and equipment for transporting pets between rooms. Once you have that information then you can design your room accordingly.

Following State/Territory Guidelines

Each state and territory government has minimum standards and guidelines for vet practices that conduct surgical procedures (and therefore have operating rooms) must follow. Because these guidelines are set by the state or territory’s Veterinary Board, they vary somewhat from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As such, it’s important to discover which rules apply to you.

Maintaining a Sterile Environment

The operating room requires a higher degree of infection control than any other space in your veterinary clinic. And to maintain a sterile environment, it’s important to ensure any non-patient sources of contamination are not stored in this space. A dedicated “clean” area at the entry to your operating room is a must. This area needs to include all the necessary equipment for preparing to enter your operating room, such as a scrubbing sink with running water and appropriate drainage.

Vet operating theatre pass through

If possible, try to locate your steri area adjacent to your surgery rooms, with a “pass through” in the wall connecting the two areas. This helps to enhance efficiency by creating convenient storage spaces for surgical packs and eliminating the need to leave surgery to collect instruments or consumables.

There also needs to be an area for surgical preparation of the patient located adjacent to or nearby your operating theatre. Your patient can be prepared for surgery here, such as shaving, sedating and any pre-op checks that need to be conducted before moving directly into the surgery room.

Another key consideration for avoiding contamination is your ventilation system. Certain airflow systems can help to decrease the volume of bacteria in the air in your operating room. So it’s worth identifying and installing one that can assist you in this way.

Choosing the Right Materials

As with any room in your veterinary clinic, choosing the right materials for your operating room is vital to ensure you can meet infection control standards. Ease of cleaning, sterility and durability should all be top of mind when considering the flooring, wall surfaces and cabinetry for your operating theatre.

Veterinary hospital operating room design


When it comes to flooring, sheet vinyl, linoleum or epoxy are the most commonly used materials. In Australia, sheet vinyl is the popular choice for operating room flooring. Being virtually seamless, it ticks all of the boxes when it comes to cleaning and infection control – and is also very cost effective compared to other materials. Regardless of the material you select, your flooring should extend a little way up the wall to avoid the potential for bacteria to breed and help maintain a clean environment.

Easy-to-clean walls are also essential to help keep things sterile. There are a variety of easy-clean yet durable paints on the market.

Learn More

At Elite Fitout Solutions, we have years of experience helping design new and refurbished veterinary practices.

View some examples of the vet clinic projects we’ve worked on.  Or to discuss your vet practice fitout, refurbishment or build project, contact Elite today on 1300 765 344.

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