Close this search box.

How to Create Better Acoustics in a Hospital

Ensuring an improved experience for staff and patients

Let’s face it: no one goes to the hospital because they want to. It’s generally out of necessity; due to illness, a need for surgery, or to visit a loved one who is unwell. Yet while historically hospitals were a place to rest and recover, today’s hospital experience is quite different.

An increase in technology – while important for health outcomes – has caused a corresponding increase in noise in medical facilities. Examples of noisy equipment include:

  • Heart rate monitors
  • Blood pressure machines
  • Drips, and
  • Oxygen machines.

And while we can’t simply switch off these noise sources, there are proven ways to effectively reduce the impact of noise on hospital staff and patients.

Why hospitals are so noisy

Modern hospitals have specific standards they must work within, to meet their exceptional sanitation requirements. Yet while these standards are excellent for hygiene, they are not so good for acoustics.

For example, hospital surfaces must be easy to clean, and cannot be porous to avoid harbouring disease-causing organisms. This means that, rather than using noise-muffling materials such as carpet, acoustic tiles and other soft surfaces, hospitals have traditionally been outfitted with smooth, hard surfaces which are quick and easy to clean.

While hygienic, these hard surfaces cause high levels of reverberation of noise in hospitals. Sounds from patients, staff talking to each other, phones, alarms, and trolleys each add to the cacophony. All these noises combine to cause significant peak noise level of 84.6dBA, which is much higher than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) recommendations of 45dBA during the day and 35dBA at night.

The impact of noise on hospital patients

Noise has more implications for people undergoing hospital treatment than you might realise. For example, high noise levels:

  • Create a perception of lessened privacy, comfort and security
  • Cause annoyance, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure
  • Cause sleep disturbance, and even
  • Increase the chance of patient readmissions.

What’s more, sudden noises in hospitals (such as a banging door, an alarm, or an item being dropped on the hard floor) are also an issue. They create a ‘startle reflex’ which increases tension and heart rate.

The impact of noise on hospital staff

Excess noise in hospitals doesn’t just impact patients. Too much noise can result in an adverse effect on the healthcare team as well. Thanks to noise, hospital staff:

  • Can develop an annoyance response (irritation due to noise)
  • Need to exert more energy, causing more fatigue, and
  • Experience increased stress levels.

What can be done about noise in hospitals?

A well-designed healthcare facility will feature noise control products that combine high performance, good aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability.

Avenue Interior Systems design, manufacture, and install a wide range of contemporary acoustic products that are ideally suited to controlling noise in modern hospitals.

Our new ebook The Ultimate Guide to Noise Control for Health Professionals is packed with information about the impacts of noise on the medical industry – and how to fix it. 

Talk to Avenue about reducing hospital noise

For more information on how we can help you to improve productivity in your medical facility, contact the friendly team at Avenue Interior Systems today on 1300 827 177.