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Do Not Disturb: Hospitals Should Let Patients Sleep


By Cathryn Jakicic Flooring
Busy hospital

Noise is a common complaint among many types of building occupants, and the recent design trend of open offices is making the issue worse for some workers. Health care environments present their own noise considerations.

Now comes the finding that frequent disruptions can actually cause harm to patients, according to The New York Times. In many hospitals, the noise and light levels are not conducive for sleep. In addition, nurses and others wake patients to give medications, take vitals, draw blood and perform tests and checkups.

Some hospitals are trying taking steps to allow patients to get more rest. To reduce noise, for instance, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has installed rubber floors in some areas. The University of Michigan Health System has taken steps to reduce noise at night by changing when floors are cleaned and installing sound-absorbing tiles.

Noise levels in hospitals have increased since the 1960s, says Mojtaba Navvab, associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan and an expert in reducing noise level in buildings. Navvab helped design acoustical changes to the university’s hospital corridors. By adding acoustic tiles to hallway walls, “the sound level was three times lower,” he says.

Cathryn Jakicic is healthcare industries editor of FacilitiesNet.com. For more information on hospital campuses and other medical facilities, click here.

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