Noise in ICU – Causes, Impacts and Solutions

It is well established via both UK and international research that, rather than being an oasis of calm, intensive care units are often one of the noisiest areas of a hospital.
Historically the sound environment was thought not to impact on patients who are extremely ill and sedated and so do not actively interact with their surroundings. We now know that the environment is an important aspect of patient support and that the sound environment specifically has a large influence on how care is perceived by patients and visitors and is key to enabling patients to rest, sleep and recuperate.
In this presentation we capture a “round up” of research that establishes the noise levels in ICU departments and, using sound link examples, investigate the causes of this noise. We explore both the positive and negative effects of differing aspects of the sound environment on patients. This includes how sound affects sleep and how sleep affects recovery and how certain sounds can positively affect patients. We offer solutions to the noise challenges that are commonly found considering behaviour, room design and equipment to give the best acoustic environment for recovery.