Hospital staff coordinates to reduce noise, improve satisfaction

Various studies indicate that background noise in hospitals often interferes with recovery; makes hospitals an unhealthy, stressful work environment; and even contributes to medical errors. Institutions, therefore, are looking at new ways to minimize extraneous sound caused by alarms, monitors, and machines.

For instance, Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Ill., recently launched the Silent Hospitals Help Healing (SHHH) campaign, a national program addressing the patient complaint that hospitals are too noisy, reports STLtoday.

The hospital made several changes to reduce excess sound: replacing squeaky wheels, installing noise-absorbing ceiling tiles, flattening patient room thresholds, and transmitting white background noise through speakers.

In addition to those structural improvements, the hospital staff made changes to cut back on noise. For example, they started sending text messages to doctors, which scaled back noisy overhead paging announcements from an average of 100 pages per day to only three, notes STLtoday. The staff also coordinates their bedside visits to avoid disrupting patients.

Besides improved care and a stress-free environment for patients and workers, hospitals should be working to reduce noise because "Quietness of the Hospital Environment" is part of the HCAHPS patient satisfaction surveys.

Fifty-four percent of patients reported Memorial was always quiet at night; the hospital falls within the average quiet range for St. Louis-area hospitals. But hospital officials expect the noise reduction campaign to boost their satisfaction survey scores higher, notes STLtoday.

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