In the typical hospital environment, sounds of beepers, alarms, machines, telephones, and voices are considered “usual and customary” — to those who work there. To patients, however, the sounds of the hospital are far from normal. Depending on a patient’s age, hearing acuity, medication level, culture, and fears, these sounds may seem antagonistic, worsening a situation that is already difficult.
Prolonged exposure to environmental noise can increase anxiety and stress, ultimately impacting patient safety. But the good news is that it is possible to address the noise issue and create an environment for patients that is not only of better quality but also inherently safe.