2012 Resolution: Create a Quiet Hospital
January 17, 2012
As we begin 2012, it would be stunning to actually have NEW resolutions.
I say this because as we look to healthcare challenges, few of them are new: insufficient access for the poor; budgetary constraints for those insured; avoidable hospital infections; cancers that are curable, and others that defy treatment — all continue to burden patients, families, and employees in the medical field.
Having been involved with the environment of care for over two decades, I have looked extensively at the correlation between a patient’s condition and the surrounding physical environment.
Hospital noise is a natural result in institutional settings that house a lot of people and require a myriad of activities and machines. Noise directly affects those in the environment, resulting in sleep deprivation, increased pain and anxiety, stress and confusion, staff burnout and family distress.
Because of the duality of being both an outcome and a risk factor, noise often is uncontrollable and unmanageable.
The good news is some methods have been implemented to control levels of ambient noise. However, the approaches used to lower noise have not been sustainable or consistent from hospital to hospital.
This year, with HCAHPS having economic implications and bringing forward the environment of care as a performance standard, it is more important than ever to find a model for a quiet environment.
The bottom line: noise is a cultural trait — and changing that culture requires a new paradigm of caring.