Hospital acoustics protect patients for improved recovery
When it comes to recuperation and recovery, a quiet and restful healing environment is necessary. More recently, significant improvements have been made in construction of health institutions with proper consideration and better noise awareness in architectural design to achieve healthier, moderated noise levels.
Impact of noise disruption on patient recovery, sleep and ambience.
In hospital and respite environments, a patient’s recovery is heavily dependent on quality sleep. When operating without adequate noise control measures or without consideration for acoustics and noise transfer issues, patient recovery becomes difficult as sleep is more disturbed. The consequence to the individual; disruptions and poor sleep quality, a noticeable reduction in healing, and possible short-term memory problems. For the hospital; longer recovery periods, more complications and more time required for individual patients(1). Also, perhaps more crucially, nurses and hospital staff(2) working in distracting, higher stress environments under strained conditions.
While facilities constructed using concrete or brick walls have a naturally satisfactory level of noise transfer control, the trend toward economically-priced lightweight building materials has exacerbated modern noise issues in hospital spaces.
A 2005 study in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (Vol. 118, No. 6)(3) suggests that noise levels in hospitals have increased dramatically over the past 50 years(4). In the 1960’s, daytime hospital sound levels around the world averaged 57 decibels; today the average is 72 decibels. Night time levels have jumped from 42 decibels to 60. The World Health Organization’s hospital noise guidelines recommend that sound levels in patient rooms should not exceed 35 decibels with a maximum of 40 dB overnight.(5)
Fortunately, while noise concerns are an ongoing problem in health and hospital facilities, there are a variety of proactive solutions for construction and interior spaces across a number of areas. Modifications for comfort and privacy are cost-effective, customisable, and easily fitted to existing or new buildings.
The aim is to address many typical noise issues including:
-Reduce the reverberation time in spaces by increasing the amount, as well as quality of sound-absorbing materials despite challenging hygiene considerations.
-Address patient room and external noise transfer issues through walls by paying particular attention to integrity of walls, and penetrations in partition walls where noise is likely to leak through. Large volumes of electronic panels and cabling can mean challenges, as well as protecting from nearby voices and conversations.Privacy and dignity(4) is an important concept for the "sacred" spaces of healing and much research(6) suggests that health spaces can improve when privacy is achieved.
-Isolate machinery and protect from vibration and low frequency noise created by electro-medical equipment, rooftop HVAC systems and data network utilities . Pipe and ducting should also be addressed due to high frequency use of waste water systems, particularly in nursing stations, surgery and throughout hallways.
The result is a better healing environment for patients, more comfortable shared spaces, with usable, inviting patient rooms and carer zones. Including these acoustic considerations has positive outcomes with long-term benefits, particularly for young children, families and the elderly in their journey back to health.
Pyrotek®, a global leader in soundproofing technology, provides a wide range of acoustic solutions that specifically address the noise issues faced by hospital, healthcare facilities and aged care.
Huisman E R C M, Morales E, van Hoof J, Kort HSM, Healing Environment: A review on the impact of physical environmental factors on users. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132312001758
De Lacerda Costa G, Bender Moreira de Lacerda, A, Marques J, Noise on the Hospital Setting: Impact on Nursing Professionals Health http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rcefac/v15n3/en_163-11.pdf
Derbyshire J, Young D, An Investigation of sound levels on intensive care units with reference to the WHO guidelines. PMC Us National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056361/
Stafford A, Haverland A, Bridges E. Noise in the ICU: What we know and what we can do about it. Critical Analysis, Critical Care. University of Washington, USA – https://www.nursesfornurses.com.au/admin/uploads/Noise_in_the_ICU.28.pdf
Berglund B, et al. Guidelines for community noise. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1999. http://www. who.int/docstore/peh/noise/guidelines2.html,http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43316/E92845.pdf