Acoustics in Hospitals – Its impact Should Ring a Bell, Not Cause Ringing Ears!

Putting the wellbeing of the building occupant in the focus requires covering all 5 human senses. Hearing, acoustics, can easily be overlooked, but it is key to physical and mental wellbeing and therefore important to staff performance and patient recovery.

In 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its Environmental Noise Guidelines for the first time since 1999, stressing that noise has negative impacts on human health and is becoming a growing concern. In western Europe alone at least 1.6 million healthy years of life are lost due to noise.

Busy environments are bound to be noisy and hospitals are no exception. One study of 416 patients showed that quieter environments can reduce hospitalization periods and another reported that 84% of anaesthesiologists were negatively affected by the noise levels in their operating rooms.

Evidence-Based Design can overcome the acoustic challenges that come with a busy environment. Major European countries, such as FR, GER, ES, PL, FI and the Scandinavian countries have specific acoustic regulation for hospitals in place. Other countries such as NL, IT, UK, still miss acoustic regulation for the healthcare sector.