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North Shore University Hospital Lowers Noise Pollution

Uncontrolled noise in hospitals ranks among the top complaints of patients, visitors, and staff. Commotion in critical care environments has a noticeable effect on the physiological and psychological well-being of patients, potentially causing sleep deprivation, increased pain perception, and delirium. In January 2015, the neurological intensive care unit at North Shore University Hospital developed a plan to lower noise levels.

Using a decibel meter, staff collected noise data at four main locations in the unit every 30 minutes for eight days. The data were shared with staff who developed a plan to decrease noise levels by 10 decibels in six months. Quiet hours were implemented from 3 to 5 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m., and education on the benefits of quiet time was disseminated. During quiet hours, staff limited conversations, eliminated environmental noise, dimmed the lights, and scheduled key tasks so they wouldn’t conflict with quiet hours.

Six months later, significant reductions in noise levels at the nurses’ station and the bed entrances were measured. Noise levels during quiet hours decreased to an average of 10 to 15 decibels lower than the baseline data.

For more information, contact Kishun Moolsankar, RN, BSN, CCRN, Nurse Manager, Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit, North Shore University Hospital, at (516) 562-3590 or at kmoolsan@northwell.edu.