Hospital Noise: What's That Racket?
The sounds of talking and footsteps, overhead paging, and beeping equipment can add up to quite a cacophony.
Average daytime decibel level (about as loud as a vacuum cleaner), recorded in hospitals worldwide, of talking and footsteps, overhead paging, beeping IV pumps and cardiac monitors, telephones, moving bed rails and carts, and other sounds bouncing off the many hard surfaces
Average decibel level recorded during the day in hospitals in 1960
Maximum daytime decibel level for patient rooms recommended by the World Health Organization
Number of hospitals in the past 50 years whose decibel numbers have fallen within WHO noise guidelines
Decibel level above which noise disturbs sleep
Peak decibel level recorded in patient rooms during hospital shift changes at the Mayo Clinic
Percentage reduction in the peak noise level at the Mayo Clinic after administrators taught staffers the importance of speaking quietly and covering IV pump speakers with one’s hand while programming changes; restricted overhead paging; and required the use of padded patient-chart holders to prevent clattering
Typical number of alarms to which intensive-care-unit patients are hooked up
Percentage reduction in medical errors reported by one unit at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit after it installed acoustical panels and decentralized its nurses’ stations