Healthcare News & Insights

Sssh! Hospitals learn reducing noise eases stress on patients and staff

New trends in hospital design and scheduling are slashing noise levels. Result: Fewer stressed-out staffers and patients.

Doctors and nurses joke that the worst place for patient’s to get a good night’s sleep is in the hospital — and the noise isn’t doing staffers any favors either.

Between buzzing machines, ringing alarms, blaring PAs, patients’ visitors and TVs, and the relentless hum of all the other activity, study after study has shown that the noise levels in hospitals delay patients’ ability to heal, create more stress for employees and can even increase the likelihood of errors.

Some hospitals have found success with a series of small changes that incrementally lessen the impact of noise on both patients and caregivers. Among the types of changes that have worked:

  • using sound-monitoring devices near nurses’ stations and other places where staff may gather to make them more aware of the volume of their conversations
  • installing new wall paneling that absorbs noise and can be easily cleaned/sterilized, and
  • designating “quiet time” breaks — an hour when the lights are dimmed, nurses and doctors avoid entering patient rooms for non-emergencies and bedroom doors are closed.

Has your hospital taken any steps to reduce noise levels? If so, share your experience in the comments.

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