Hospital Noise and Potential Health Hazards
In Creating Acoustically Sound Hospitals, we noted that machines used to improve our health could be the very things that impede our recovery. The noise from
- Heart rate monitors
- Blood pressure machines
- Drips and
- Oxygen machines
increase noise levels in hospitals to above the recommended noise level set by the World Health Organisation of a maximum level of 40 decibels.
The average sound level at hospitals, according to a recent study: 48 decibels!
WHO Hospital Noise Guidelines
Once upon a time hospital were noise-free like libraries – respected spaces, preserved as a quiet zone. To the point where if you visited a family member and were too loud, you would receive a hasty “shh” from the nursing staff. In Florence Nightingale’s book, “Notes on Nursing,” she described unnecessary noise as “the most cruel absence of care” (Deadorff, 2011).
Fast forward until today – noise is expected everywhere, including hospitals. Noise levels in hospitals are nearly double the recommendation from WHO and can range between 57 to 72 dB during the day and 42 to 60 dB during the evening. WHO’s guidelines state that inpatient rooms the noise should not exceed 40 decibels. We know this is not the case.
Lack of sleep due to noise on hospital wards is a problem for many patients. Sleep plays a vital role in regulating the impact of pain and the immune system as well as people’s mental well-being. It, therefore, follows that there is growing evidence that shorter and more inadequate quality sleep in hospitals links with slower patient recovery and more extended hospital stays.
The blame for the increase of noise can be on our increased awareness of the importance of health and safety. Increased knowledge has lead to changing surfaces to cater for easy cleaning. The lack of absorbency on the floors and walls can increase the sound of staff conversations and roommates.
The sources of noise include:
- Staff conversation
At night alarms, pagers and intercom noise can seem to increase as the noise from staff conversation and roommates decreases.
Hospital Noise Mitigation
There are many ways to make patients in hospitals more comfortable in terms of noise. Staff can lower their voices; overhead paging systems removed, and cleanable acoustic solutions introduced.
Some products that Avenue Interior Systems can supply to improve the noise in a hospital environment are detailed below.
Calando White Ceiling Tiles
Calando White Ceiling Tiles are lightweight and are incredibly durable. These tiles are designed for rooms with a ceiling grid such as hospital rooms. Therefore, all you need to do is replace existing ceiling tiles with the acoustic version.
Calando Desk and Calando Booth
Calando Acoustic Fabric
In communal areas, adding Calando Acoustic Fabric to the walls will improve the appearance of the space, improve the acoustics and, as it is pin and Velcro-receptive, the fabric can even be used to display posters and information.
To establish the perfect combination of noise control products for your hospital, engaging an acoustic engineer such as AcousTech will provide you with the best results. An acoustic engineer will visit your site, discuss your noise control challenge with you, and take detailed noise level readings.
The engineer will take into account your available space, necessary access and workplace ergonomics workflows, to design the best solution for the noise control issue. The solution may include one, none, or all of the above resolutions.
For more information on any noise control products, visit avenueis.com.au or call 1300 827 177.