The Effects of Hospital Noise

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Florence Nightingale believed that unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care, which can be inflicted either on sick or on well (Choiniere, 2010). “Sleep is essential in healing”, is what we have been told since the second we walked through the door of nursing school. What we do not learn in school is the amount of noise that actually exists in the hospital and the negative effects it has on our patients. Hospital noise has negative effects on our patients and on us, healthcare workers. “For the purpose of hospital noise, relevant measures of noise are related to sound levels. The relative loudness of sound is measured in decibels” (Choiniere, 2010). The EPA recommends that hospital sound levels should not exceed forty five decibels, whereas the WHO recommends that hospital noise should not exceed thirty decibels and peaks should be less than forty decibels (Choiniere, 2010). The author of this article also talks about how all reports show that hospital noise exceeds the recommended amount. An intensive care unit averages around fifty-five to seventy decibels, pagers at eighty four, and a typical conversation at fifty five decibels. Literature lists all these things as stressors and that sound levels greater than fifty decibels cause sleep disturbances in hospital patients. Choiniere goes on to say that noise can stimulate that pituitary gland and the sympathetic nervous system, which produces endocrine and sympathetic effects commonly seen in response to a stressful situation. Noise is often defined as unwanted sound; however it is also recognized as an environmental pollutant, which causes workplace disruption and has implications for chronic mental and physical health. Noisy environments have adverse health implications on patients who are undergoing the healing and process and recovery (Choiniere, 2010). Although there has been an extensive amount of research done on the effects of hospital noise on patients, less has been done to determine the...
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