Noise Measurements in the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions’ Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

This paper describes how noise that is generated around hospitals has received considerable interest with respect to how the noise radiates throughout the surrounding community. Major concerns relate to sound radiation from HVAC units that are located mostly on the top of buildings and from vehicle traffic noise. Very little attention has been paid to the noise inside patient’s rooms, staff working areas, and hallways. This study funded by U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare established guidelines and recommendations for various facilities inside the hospital. Hospital noise levels in the NC-30 to NC-40 range were recommended, with a goal of NC-30 for patient rooms during sleep hours. In addition, NC-35 should be maintained around nurse’s station. As you will see from our results, very little has been done in the interim to implement many of the suggestions made in this report. Major noise sources in hospitals are HVAC systems, overhead paging, conversations (and other talk) in corridors, equipment, moving carts and, most recently, portable medical instruments with various pumps, tones and alerts surrounding patients. These noise sources have dramatically expanded as hospitals have increased their reliance on technology. The need for hospitals to be able to regularly sanitize just about every surface in patient areas further complicates noise control efforts. Additionally, many studies point to the negative effects of high noise levels on performance and safety, but only a few reports deal with this problem in hospital settings. In early 2004 the authors were invited to investigate the noise problems in The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (JHMI). Many complaints from staff and patients about unusually high noise levels, and concerns about safety in the presence of high noise levels motivated this study. This paper presents some of our findings in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Alternatives to overhead paging will also be presented.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: CD-ROM
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 764-771
  • Monograph Title: Noise-Con 04. The 2004 National Conference on Noise Control Engineering

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01054369
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2007 11:57AM