Fact: Hospitals Are Noisy

Whether it’s chatter from the nurse’s station, persistent alarms or traffic in the corridor, hospitals are rarely quiet or peaceful places. This is true not just during daylight hours, but at all hours of the day and night. Hospital noise impacts patients trying to rest and recover, as well as staff trying to consult with patients and each other. So, how can noise be kept under control? A recent article by Andrew Heaton on Sourceable explores this important issue.

Benefits Of Noise Reduction In Hospitals

We know hospitals are noisy places and we know that this is not good for a patient’s recovery.

As reported in a 2011 white paper:

Excessive noise has been shown to produce physiological changes in patients, including lower oxygen saturation (increasing need for oxygen support therapy); higher blood pressure, heart and respiration rate; and compromised sleep. This leads to sleep loss, slower recovery times and greater likelihood of readmission.

Excessive noise is also a problem for doctors trying to have a private consultation with their patients. Particularly in public hospitals, this can become an issue of doctor-patient confidentiality. Dispensing errors and lower productivity have also been attributed to excessive noise in hospitals.

Strategies For Noise Reduction In Hospitals

A good hospital noise reduction system requires proper planning and professional consultation. According to Cooper and Boglev (acoustics experts from the US), patient rooms should branch out from side corridors to reduce noise from staff stations and people in the main corridors. While this is not always possible in existing structures because the overall layout is difficult to change, there are still opportunities for noise reduction.

For example:

  • Acoustic door seals
  • Insulation
  • Sound absorbing ceiling tiles
  • White noise machines
  • Acoustical wall panels
  • Soundproofing panels

These measures will help reduce both the build-up of sound and travel of sound in, ideally resulting in better patient outcomes and happier healthcare staff.

Harwood Acoustics is a professional acoustical consulting business servicing the Shoalhaven, Illawarra and Southern Highlands with a wide range of acoustical services.