What do patterns of noise in a teaching hospital and nursing home suggest?

New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA.
Noise and Health (Impact Factor: 1.48). 04/2007; 9(35):31-4. DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.36977
Source: PubMed


Noise pollution is known to cause deleterious effects on human health and may especially affect frail elderly patients with poor mental and physiologic reserve.
(i) to learn levels and time- and place-patterns of noise in an urban community teaching hospital (TH) and affiliated urban nursing home (NH); (ii) to compare levels and patterns of noise in both institutions.
Recordings were obtained in three areas of the TH: emergency room (ER), intensive care units (ICU), and medical-surgical floors (HF) - nurses' stations and patients' rooms. On nursing home floors (NHF), noise levels were recorded at nurses' stations and in patients' rooms. In all areas of the hospital and NH, noise levels were in range of 55-70 dB and exceeded the 40-50 dB limit recommended by the EPA. In ER and ICU, noise level was higher on weekdays than weekends. In ICU and on HF, noise level was higher during mid-day hours during mornings and evenings. The highest noise level was recorded in ER followed by ICU and HF. On HF, nurses' stations were noisier than patients' rooms. Noise level was higher in the TH than in the NH. On NHF, noise level was similar on weekdays and weekends. Noise was stronger at nurses' stations than in patients' rooms and stronger in the mornings and evenings than during mid-day hours. Patterns of noise followed the human factor activities observed in both facilities.
The level of noise in both facilities was above the recommended limit and presents an environmental stressor for a frail elderly patient. With transfer from NH to TH exposure to this stressor is increased. Time- and place-patterns of noise in both institutions suggest that human factor is a major source of noise pollution. This pollution is, therefore, potentially modifiable.

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