25. Noisy Hospital Environments

Hospitals are unnecessarily noisy places. Non urgent alarms and normally functioning medical equipment are especially needlessly noisy. All hospitals should strive to keep unnecessary noises completely out of patient recovery rooms.  It is logical to assume, but it has also been shown that a quiet environment aids recovery. Not only that, but alarm fatigue (aka alert fatigue) is a very real precipitating factor in many critical mistakes often made in hospitals and other settings where too many non-essential alarms and data are being presented to personnel that they often become desensitized to them, leading to a delayed awareness of or outright missing of important information.

Hospital machinery placed long-term at a patient’s bedside should not make any noises, except when it detects something to be outside of a normal range. Hospital conversations between staff should take place at nursing stations rather than in hallways, when possible, squeaky wheels and doors should be fixed, establishing and respecting quiet hours in all inpatient areas, and providing earbuds or earplugs for all patients should should be just some of the measures taken to reduce the level of ambient noise in hospitals.

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