Healthcare News & Insights

Improved patient care: As simple as moving the trash bin

New research indicates some very basic solutions to a lingering patient complaint: Too much noise in hospitals.

It’s so well-known it’s become cliche to say it, but patients have a hard time resting in hospitals — and that’s just when they most need the restorative power of sleep.

But a new study indicates that the most basic changes to room layout and some equipment can have a significant impact on the amount of ambient noise. And in turn, that can help patients sleep better and longer, as well as ease their (and their families’) frazzled nerves.

Among the steps the researchers took to reduce background noise, they rearranged hospital room furniture and fixtures like trash cans to give patients more distance from noisy items and reduced the volumes of phones, call buttons, etc.

Little actions add up when it comes to noise. Even an innocuous action like opening up a box of latex gloves was measured at 86 decibels — louder than heavy traffic.

The researchers were able to reduce peak decibels over 24 hours by 20% to 77.52 decibels.

The study was done by researchers at Newcastle upon Tyne hospitals in the U.K. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

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