Noise can make it more difficult to cope with pain. A nursing study performed by Barbra Blake Minckley showed that twice the number of patients were administrated pain medication when noise levels were “High” compared with “Low” or “Middle”.
Even quite moderate noise levels can potentially disturb the process of caring for the patient.
She said “If there was a way to facilitate the communication between staff members as well as prevent noise from propagating in the room, it would most likely become a more patient friendly environment”.
A number of other studies have already shown the benefits of room acoustic interventions (increased sound absoprtion). Among those we are a decrease of sleep disturbance and a lower number of readmission rates.
The brochure “CARE ABOUT SOUND™” compiles most relevant studies on this topic.
”A study of noise and its relationship to patientdiscomfort in the recovery room” as the study by Barbra Blake Minckley is called was published already in 1968. As we know from the study performed by James West and Ilene Bush sound levels in hospitals have increased with at least 15dB(A) since then.
In her study Ms. Blake Minckley also tried to conclude what types of noise had the biggest impact. By observing the faces of the unconscious patients in the ward, she could see that high noises caused the patients to “grimace” and this mostly happened due to voices and laughter in the ward. Typically this would happen when the team of surgeons brought in the patient and chitchatted and laughter as a way to get rid of the tension after a couple of hours of intensive work in the operating theatre.
More info about the study can be found here
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