Hospitals are places where people go to heal, but they can also be noisy places.
There are beeping machines, conversations between staff and patients, and other emergencies.
All of this noise can be disruptive to patients who are trying to rest and recover.
More than just disruptive, these noises can be harmful to patients and negatively impact their health and healing.
Noisy Hospitals Reduce Sleep Quality
Sleep is an essential component of the healing and recovery process.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body can’t heal as effectively.
The noise in hospitals can make it difficult for patients to get quality sleep.
This can be especially hard for patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where the noise level tends to be louder, and the patients are already in a fragile state.
One study found an average continuous noise level of 63.5 decibel A (dBA) in hospital wardrooms, more than twice the WHO’s recommended 30 dBA. This measurement was accompanied by 86% of patients reporting sleep disturbance.
Reduced Sleep and Increased Stress Impact Recovery
When patients are overwhelmed with too much noise and not enough sleep, it can increase stress levels.
It is also likely to lead to negative moods, further hindering the healing process.
All of this suggests that the stressful noisiness of hospitals can significantly impact the likelihood of a successful recovery.
Noise Can Disrupt the Medical Staff Too
It’s not just patients who suffer from the noise in hospitals. The staff also has to deal with constant interruptions and distractions.
This can lead to reduced productivity, increased stress levels, and an increased likelihood of mistakes being made.
There appears to be an association between the noise levels in the operating room and the rate of surgical-site infections. This may be related to being distracted, reduced concentration, added stress, and difficulty communicating.
What Can Be Done About It?
Now that hospitals are growing increasingly aware of and concerned with the problem, some take steps to reduce the noise.
This includes using quieter medical equipment, sound-proofing rooms, and having dedicated quiet times.
Another solution is to provide patients with noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
These measures can help reduce the noise in hospitals and improve the experience for patients, staff, and visitors.