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Hospital Noise Control

Noise in Hospitals and Medical Centers

Staff and visitors need to be reminded to keep the noise levels down in the following locations:

  • Nurses station
  • Corridors close to wards
  • On the hospital ward
  • Ward entrances and exits

Noise warning signs are commonly used within NICU and neonatal wards, as well as on other general and intensive care units to remind not just the visitors but also the staff and patients to keep their noise levels down.

The mere existence of the noise warning sign in an obvious location is often enough to remind people about the area's sensitivity to noise.

noise at a nurses station
Noise level display at the
Nurses Station and Corridor

Why a Noise Warning Sign

noise warning sign

Other than important alarms, there is usually no need for excessive noise on a hospital ward. It is usually caused by visitors and sometimes staff talking louder than necessary or people being careless when moving medical equipment or patients between wards.

The SoundEar is a clear and simple reminder to keep the noise levels down and if you forget it lights up to remind you.

Using the Noise Warning Sign in a Hospital

The perfect location for a sign depends on the layout and the acoustics of the area in question. The most important aspect of the SoundEar is that it reminds people to keep the level down, so it is best to mount them where they are clearly visible to anybody entering the room or area. Often the Nurses Station is a good place to position one unit as this is usually in view to any body visiting and also to constantly remind the staff.

hospital noise limitThere is no simple rule about the level at which the sign should light up. Hospital rooms and areas have different ambient noise levels and different acceptable limits. An intensive care unit will have a much lower noise threshold than a busy ward dealing with less critical illnesses. The best way to find the comfortable limit for a ward it to set the sign up to 55 dB (using the dial on the back). Run the sign for a few hours, or even a few days, and get a feel for whether it is being too sensitive for the given environment or whether it is letting people get away with too much. Adjust up or down by 5 dB as needed.

A level of 45 to 55 dB is common for neonatal and intensive care areas and 50 to 60 dB is common for other areas, although it does depend a lot on the acoustics of the areas in question.

For more information on setting the sign up, please visit Choosing and Setting the Sign Level page.

Standard or Data Logging?

For an immediate indication that the noise levels are too high, the standard SoundEar is perfectly adequate. If you want to check the noise environment over a period of time, finding out when the noisiest and quietest times are or checking the function of quiet times then the optional Data Logging Module is ideal. This plugs into the back of the sign and stores the average noise level every five minutes for download to a computer and analysis.

An approach taken by some hospitals and neonatal units is to have a few standard SoundEar signs and just one or two SE2LOGGER data logging modules. One solution is to have a SoundEar sign in each room of interest and move the data logging module around the different rooms, monitoring each for a few days at a time.

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