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How noise in hospitals affects patients

The health problems created by excessive noise

In previous articles, the Avenue team have talked about the detrimental effects of noise on patients and their recovery from illness. And yet, it can be vastly different simply referencing statistics and research, compared to hearing patients’ firsthand experience. So in this article, we have sourced actual patients’ experiences in different parts of a private hospital.

Real-world patients’ experience with excess hospital noise
An Avenue colleague (patient 1) and one of their friends (patient 2) recently spent time in hospitals recovering from surgeries. From their experiences, we can prove that the research we reference is accurate!

Patient 1 spent time in the ICU after surgery, reporting that it was noisy and difficult to rest. They experienced constant monitoring of their health, machine noise, and chatter. Rest is a crucial component to recovery from a severe illness or a major operation, and too much noise can lengthen recovery time – or, as in patient 1’s case, can make a patient anxious enough to make them want to discharge themselves to go home and get some rest!

Patient 2 experienced a similar situation, also spending time in the ICU following surgery. However, since patient 2 was under sedation, the noise discomfort was not as severe – yet when they progressed to the ward, they were more aware of their surroundings and the noise.

For over a week, patient 2 was on the ward in a private room, which should have prevented noise from the nurses’ station and other patients’ rooms impacting them. However, machines beeping, conversations and devices all disrupted their rest and recovery.

Due to post-pandemic restrictions, patients’ families could not physically visit them while they were in hospital.  You would imagine that with fewer people wandering the halls, noise levels would return to those of the 1950s where hospitals were quieter than libraries. Alas, this was not this case!

When patient 2 spoke to their family on the phone, the family commented on the amount of background noise – particularly the beeping they thought was in the patient’s room. Not so – the beeping was coming from a room down the corridor!  When patient 2 was discharged from the hospital, like patient 1 they too were looking forward to returning home to rest and recover.

Hospital noise can create poor health

Engaging cover image of the Ultimate Guide to Noise Control for Health Professionals depicting a doctor sharing a warm smile with a patient. The image captures the importance of managing noise levels in healthcare settings to foster effective communication, patient comfort, and a positive care experience.
Download a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Noise Control for Health Professionals.

The recommended maximum noise level set by the World Health Organisation is 40 decibels in patient rooms. Yet we know from experience this is not the case. Noise levels in hospitals are nearly double the recommendation from WHO, ranging between 57 and 72 dB during the day and 42 and 60 dB during the evening.

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 wellbeing. And there is growing evidence that shorter and poorer quality sleep in hospitals is linked with slower patient recovery and extended hospital stays.

Other health impacts of too much noise include:

  • An increased chance of a patient readmission
  • A perceived lack of privacy, comfort and security
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Patient 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.

Noise solutions for hospitals

Avenue Interior Systems can supply proven products that help to improve noise in a hospital environment:

Calando White ceiling tiles are lightweight and incredibly durable. And because they’re designed for rooms with a ceiling grid – such as hospital rooms – all you need to do is replace your existing ceiling tiles with the acoustic version.

Calando Panels are plain and unobtrusive, yet highly acoustically effective. They are perfect for plaster ceilings in wards, or in common areas such as rehab gyms and lounges.

Adding a Calando Desk or Calando Booth to the nurses’ station will improve staff privacy, and also reduce the sound of their conversations travelling into patient rooms.

Calando Acoustic Fabric can be added to communal area walls to improve the space’s appearance, its acoustics and also – since the fabric is pin and Velcro-receptive – to display posters and information.

All of Avenue Interior Systems’ Calando Range products are microbial, mold and mildew resistant, so can be safely installed in clinical areas.

Talk to Avenue about soundproofing solutions for hospitals

To create the ideal noise control solution for your hospital, it’s crucial to engage a business that understands acoustics design, government standards and how the medical industry operates. Avenue Interior Systems works with acoustic engineers to create the best solution for the medical industry.

For more information on any noise control products, call the Avenue team on 1300 827 177.