How to Reduce Noise in Patient Areas

More than a century and a half ago, Florence Nightingale wrote in her book, Notes on Nursing, Reducing Hospital Noise
“Unnecessary noise is the most cruel abuse of care which can be inflicted on either the sick or the well.”
Despite the significant medical advances of humankind during the last 150 years, noise levels in healthcare facilities continue to be a largely unsolved problem. According to the American Journal of Nursing, studies show that high levels of sound have negative physical and psychological effects on patients, disrupting sleep, increasing stress, and decreasing patients’ confidence in the competence of their clinical caregivers.

One of the primary reasons that healthcare facilities are so noisy is due to their inherent design and construction.  Materials and furnishings are typically made of hard and reflective surfaces to prevent harboring pathogenic organisms.  In addition, hard surfaces are much easier to clean and sanitize.  The drawback is that hard surfaces cause sounds to echo and carry down hallways and into patient rooms.

Excluding human voices, patient monitoring and life-sustaining devices, the most common cause of excessive noise in a healthcare facility is the cleaning and maintenance equipment.  Thankfully, a new breed of cleaning equipment is available on the market today.  No longer will patients need to sacrifice a good night sleep for a clean facility.

For years, the only way to effectively and efficiently clean hard surface floors was with loud floor scrubbers that operated at noise levels more suited for a steel factory.  Today, automatic scrubbing equipment designed for healthcare facilities operate with a noise level as low as 54 decibels.  These products have been very successful in reducing noise for healthcare facilities and improving patient satisfaction scores.  The result is a clean and sanitary facility that allows patients to rest and recover better than ever before.

When choosing cleaning equipment for your facility, pay close attention to the following attributes:

  1. Sound rating of the machine should be less than 59 decibels during operation.
  2. Acoustic insulated vacuum system to help reduce noise without sacrificing performance.
  3. Wheels should have sealed bearings and soft rubber tread to prevent squeaking.
  4. Simple operator controls to ensure that the machine is properly used every time.

Facility maintenance personnel can contribute to the well-being of their patients just as much as the medical staff.  Utilize quiet cleaning technologies to ensure a clean and attractive facility that is also conducive to patient rest and relaxation.

Paul Lewandowski is an Equipment and Retail Product Manager at the Betco Corporation. He has over 9 years of experience in the janitorial and institutional cleaning business. When not working he enjoys spending time with his family and coaching intramural softball. Click here to reach out directly to Paul. 

One thought on “How to Reduce Noise in Patient Areas

  1. David M. Johnson, CLLM, RLLD

    Very well-written article. This is the most over-looked complaint by patients for most hospitals. You are correct that this should not be a problem with today’s advances in floor care equipment.


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