When you go to the hospital, it is generally out of necessity, not because you want to. You go because you are sick, you need surgery, or you are there to visit a loved one who is unwell. Historically hospitals were a place to rest and recover; today, the hospital experience is different.
Why are hospitals so noisy?
The increase in technology has caused much of the noise in a medical facility. Think about the sound of a:
- heart rate monitor
- blood pressure machine
- oxygen machine
they’re all very noisy.
Hospitals have specific standards they must work within to meet exceptional sanitation standards. While these standards are excellent for sanitation, they are not so excellent for acoustics. For example, surfaces must be easy to clean, and they cannot be porous where they could harbour disease-causing organism. So, rather than using noise-muffling materials like carpet, acoustic tiles and other soft surfaces, hospitals have traditionally been outfitted using smooth, hard surfaces which are quick and easy to clean.
Sounds from other patients, staff talking to each other, phones, alarms and trolleys add to the cacophony. All of the noises combine to cause significant peak noise level of 84.6dBA, which is much higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of 45dBA during the day and 35dBA at night.
Impacts on patients
Noise has more implications on how people react to situations than you would think. For example, high noise levels:
- Increases the chance of a patient readmission
- Create a perception of lack of privacy, comfort and security
- Cause sleep disturbance
- Cause annoyance which leads to an increase in blood pressure
- Sudden noises (such as a banging door, an alarm, or dropping an item on the hard floor) are also an issue – they create a ‘startle reflex’ which increases tension and heart rate.
Impacts on staff
Noisy hospitals do not solely impact patients; too much noise can result in an adverse effect on the team. Due to the noise, hospital staff
- Can develop an annoyance response (irritation due to noise)
- Need to exert more energy causing more fatigue
- Have increased stress levels
What can you do about it?
A well-designed healthcare facility is a combination of high-performing and aesthetic products -functionality, sustainability and décor. For more information on the impacts of noise in the medical industry and how to fix it – download our eBook Acoustically Sound Hospitals today or call Avenue Interior Systems on 1300 827 177 to find out how we can help.