Boston Hospital Works to Reduce Alarm Fatigue

January 17th, 2014

We’ve talked about it before. Alarm fatigue happens when a doctor or nurse becomes desensitized to the sounds in a hospital, thus sometimes missing the sounds that are important – like critical alarms lost amid the beeping of machines.

Boston Medical Center (BMC) recently underwent a 6-week studye where they effectively decreased the number of alarms that could be heard beeping. As a result, was less alarm fatigue and more effective patient response times.

Before the pilot program, the noise was 90 decibles. After, it had dropped to 72. That’s a huge difference when it comes to noise – all done without any soundproofing techniques. The hospital plans to continue the study and is expanding it to their surgical units.

You can read about the full study on Science Daily.

Was the Recovery at Glasgow Accident Scene Too Slow?

December 20th, 2013

Earlier this month, a helicopter accident in Glagow left several people dead and almost a dozen critically injured. The helicopter, when it crashed, did so very suddenly. As a result, the pilot had no time to issue a call for help. The helicopter did not have a traditional black box recorder, either, so authorities are hoping the other technological equipment recovered from the scene helps them to figure out what went wrong.

Unfortunately, family members of the deceased are upset at the length of time the recovery operation took. Some claim it seems as though the authorities were more concerned about surveying the helicopter than identifying the remains of the deceased. The deputy chief at the scene, however, stated the situation was delicate. They needed to balance allowing emergency personnel to help those who were wounded with securing the entire scene for investigation; and they also had concerns about securing the scene so that the deceased would not be exposed throughout the process.

The building that was hit also posed problems. The older building had been party demolished but also featured a three -layer roof, very thick walls, and added soundproofing materials. It was difficult to to work through.

Did you hear about this accident? What do you think of the recovery? Did soundproofing materials really hinder their efforts (we’re doubtful)?

Diwali Brings High Noise Levels to India

November 5th, 2013

It’s always interesting to see how different parts of the world respond to noise. We were not surprised to find that The Times of India reported a lot of injuries during Diwali, which happened on November 3rd. The “festival of lights” is a time for celebration and, like our New Year, often involves candles, firecrackers, and fireworks.

Sadly, more than 100 children were injured in the city of Hyderabad thanks to firecrackers. Several people, including adults, were injured enough to need surgery.

But what interested us most was the rise in noise levels around the city of Kukatpally. The average noise level there is not supposed to be higher than 45 decibels on a regular day. During Diwali, the noise level generall averages around 65 – 80 decibels. This year, the noise level rose all the way to 112 decibels – a huge increase.

Unfortunately, there’s no soundproofing mechanism you can use to protect yourself from partying and fireworks. Except, of course, staying indoors and out of the crowds.

Does Noise Mean Bad Care?

October 1st, 2013

I’m always looking for new information about the impact noise has on medical care. Hospital environments can be incredibly hectic, and I’ve read some interesting articles about noise making sick people feel worse and about noise causing issues with nurses who don’t hear important alerts. There seem to be tons of studies, either way.

That’s why I was incredibly interested, today, to see an article in Science Daily outlining the correlation between noise and good hospital care. I can just about see you rolling your eyes at this. I had the same feeling, too.

According to the Science Daily article, there are some cases where noise is associated with excellent care. Why is this? Because in some urban areas, the busiest and noisiest hospitals are the ones where the specialists are working. For example, per the article, a patient going into heart failure should go to the same hospital where everyone else with heart failure goes. The doctors in those hospitals are equipped and ready to go. Their skills sets have earned them a reputation for quality care. Quality care is in demand. Places where people are in demand tend to be busier and, as a result, noisier.

The model used to gauge hospital performance, PRIDIT, takes this type of care into consideration. So you really have to weigh the pros and cons. Maybe the room you were in wasn’t soundproof – but you definitely didn’t die.


More Research on Hospital Noise Released

September 20th, 2013

According to one UK publication, additional studies are showing that hospital patients are incredibly bothered by noise during their stays. The noise comes from other patients and from hospital employees.

The survey was conducted by the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The problem with the survey is that it was conducted after measures were taken to make a quieter atmosphere during the evening hours. They, for example, now use phones that only flash at night to eliminate ringing noises.

One of the mangers blames dementia patients for noise, because they become confused. Other outside professionals believe the doors and carts needs to be oiled to make less noise.

Regardless, it doesn’t seem like this hospital has made as much headway as they think when it comes to noise problems – not to mention communication, pain control, and patient waiting times for rooms.

Seems like the industry has a long way to go.

Your 5 Senses Directly Impact Your Sleep

August 29th, 2013

It’s true. Everything about you impacts the way you sleep and how beneficial that sleep is to your body. Your five senses – hearing, smell, taste, touch, and vision – aren’t just for your waking hours. They impact your health all the time.

The things you see as you prepare for bed need to be calming, not stimulating. Everything from the color of the paint you use on the walls to the artwork you hang can have an impact. You’ll also want to be conscious of outside influences like moonlight, car lights, and street lamps.

The things you taste – like toothpaste or mouthwash – and the things you smell – like your partner – can also send signals to your brain. This is one reason why so many people respond so well to aromatherapy.

The things you touch include your mattress, bedding, sheets, and even your pillows. The textures, fibers, density, and shape can all make a difference.

But that’s not what we find most important here. We are, of course, always concerned with sound. Noises can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep and the lighter you sleep, the more noises can bother you. Do cars drive down your street at night? Does the neighbor have a barking dog? Do you leave the television blaring all night long, like my fiance does? While sound is generally not recommended, I have found a sleep machine that makes white noise helps me to fall asleep.

Outside noises, however, drive me nuts. If you can’t get past the noises, you may need to consider soundproofing by adding extra drywall with green glue or by checking the seals on your doors and windows.

Sleep is critical to your health, so you need to make sure your five senses are all happy and content when your head hits the pillow each night!

Can Add-On’s Improve Health By Blocking Noise?

August 15th, 2013

In a press release published on, noise pollution was explored as being a health risk. Excess noise in our homes and places of business can cause a myriad of health complications, ranging from sleep disorders to heart disease. To make matters worse, noise levels at night significantly increased the risk of heart attacks due to the stress it puts on the body.

Scientists have been raving about the importance of sleep for years and years. Your body does quite a bit of healing during your restful times, and if your body can’t get enough rest, you eventually become rundown.

A new product known simply as Soundproof Windows has been created. They don’t replace your windows, but they are added to the inside and blend in with the existing layout. These windows have been shown to reduce noise anywhere from 90% – 98% – a significant improvement.

Of course, having special windows built to your home’s specifications may not be in the budget. If that’s the case, start with simple solutions to block outside noise – check your window and door seals and make sure there are no obvious leaks. If all else fails, seek alternative soundproofing solutions  – like window coverings. Your health depends on it!

Hearing Loss Connected to Hospitalizations

July 24th, 2013

According to a study done by Johns Hopkins, individual who have significant hearing loss were more likely to be in a bad mood, suffer from depression, be hospitalized frequently, and suffer from injuries and illness.

The study looked at a sampling of individuals over the age of 70. The group consisted of 1,140 people with hearing problems and over 500 with good hearing.

The concern is that hearing loss can lead to difficulties with other cognitive abilities, especially in the elderly. It impacts their ability to live independently. Previous to this, no one had done a study to determine the impact hearing loss had on the overall use of the healthcare system.

In terms of the study itself, patients sat in a soundproof room. They had to listen to sounds ranging from 0 to 100 decibels. Those who have hearing problems can generally only hear sounds higher than 25 decibels.

The study found that those with hearing loss were more likely to have hear problems. They were also more likely to have longer illnesses and hospital stays.

What does this mean to you? We’re not 100% sure yet, but you should be conscious of the noises you’re exposing yourself to. Preserve your hearing for your future health!

Soft Hospital Rooms Introduced in Ontario

July 10th, 2013

At the Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in Ontario, a new type of room has been developed. The “soft” room was designed with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and other types of abuse in mind.

The theory behind the soft room is that victims have to deal with quite a bit in the hospital in terms of the initial trauma, examination, and follow-up treatments. The last thing a victim needs is to follow the event and ER trip up with a trip to the local police precinct.

These special “soft” rooms are designed to be comfortable places for victims, many still in shock from the events they’ve experienced. The rooms are nicely furnished, warm, and soundproof, ensuring safety. While one investigator conducts an interview, another can record it in an adjoining room, reducing some of the stress of seeing recording equipment.

Having these rooms in the hospital does a couple of things. It ensures victims and witnesses are interviewed faster. They’re also not exposed to each other, which means they’re not contaminated. These room are also increasing the likelihood that the interviews will take place at all, as many victims change their minds about going to the precinct after leaving the hospital.

These rooms are part of an overall program, too. They are accompanied by nurses who are specially trained to deal with trauma and assault. They not only help with injuries, but can make sure victims have safety plans before they leave.


Exploring the Effects of Hospital Noise

June 17th, 2013

We’ve been talking about hospital noise quite a bit lately. It may seem odd to focus on it so much, but studies are showing that hospital noise has more of an impact than we ever before believed or understood.

According to the NIH, the effects of hospital noise are profound. “The body responds to noise in the same way it responds to stress and overtime can impair health.” We’ve discussed how noise impacts patients in the hospital, but what we haven’t really thought about is how noise impacts the nurses themselves.

Nurses themselves are subjected to the noises from each and every hospital room they visit. They also have alarms, phones, and alert systems at their stations between rooms. In some areas, there have been studies as to the effectiveness of alarms when nurses are dulled to the noise – making them less likely to respond to critical care needs in a timely manner simply because they are no longer processing the sounds. We also have to wonder if the nurses are suffering additional stress throughout their lives simply because of the additional sound exposure.

One thing is for sure. We can’t have silent hospitals. That said, we have to find new ways to ensure nurse and patients can communicate without creating stress – for either.

What do you think?