Studies have long shown that unnecessary noise for a hospitalized patient is more than irritating – it can be damaging. In fact, back in the mid-19th century, no less a nursing legend than Florence Nightingale called it “the cruelest absence of care.” A much more recent study found that “the accumulation of noise, gossip and unwanted distraction adds up to stress, anxiety, and, in total, an unacceptable, unsatisfying and risk-laden health experience.”
With this in mind, SBH Health System has recently moved to reduce noise levels for inpatients. In the ICU, for example, which cares for many of the hospital’s most critical patients, it lowered the sounds for overhead pages, educated staff on the important of quiet, and dimmed the lights at night. In addition, the hospital is now piloting on one of its patient floors the use of “relaxation kits,” which include ear plugs and a night mask. In addition, a giant “ear” on the floor is storing data on the amount of sound occurring at different times of the day, and special “quiet hours” have been instituted at night. See this story by News 12 the Bronx.