Noise pollution is becoming a rising issue in hospitals, a recent report suggests.
Noise in hospitals is known to hinder communication among staff, causing annoyance, irritation, and fatigue, and detrimentally impacting the quality and safety of healthcare. High noise levels and noise-induced stress impact negatively on staff performance and wellbeing, compromising caring behaviour and contributing to burnout.
The team of researchers highlighted that it can also impact a patients' ability to rest, heal and recover since it has been linked to the development of ICU psychosis, hospitalisation-induced stress, increased pain sensitivity, high blood pressure, and poor mental health. The findings are published in the journal of BMJ.
"Even in intensive care units, which cater for the most vulnerable patients, noise levels over 100dB have been measured, the equivalent of loud music through headphones. Even in intensive care units, which cater for the most vulnerable patients, noise levels over 100dB have been measured, the equivalent of loud music through headphones," said lead author Dr Andreas Xyrichis.
Explaining the issue further, Xyrichis said, "We know hospital noise has disruptive consequences for sleep - machine sounds, in particular, have a greater negative effect on arousal than human voices. Post-hospitalisation recovery is also compromised. For example, coronary care patients treated during noisy periods were found to have a higher incidence of rehospitalisation compared to those treated during quieter periods."
Patients report that hospital noise can have a cumulative effect on their hospital experience. Patients who are in a hospital for several nights are left feeling trapped and stressed, leading to requests for premature discharge from hospital and heightened risk of trauma and readmission.
"Measures to tackle this problem have included earplugs, noise warning systems, acoustic treatment panels, educational initiatives, and noise reduction protocols, which have provided some benefit," said Andreas.
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