Alarm Noise Is a Deterrent to Patient Safety

Hospital%20hall.jpgFor many patients who are hospitalized for extensive periods of time, a hospital is far from a calming recuperative environment. For these patients, every single day is marred by the frequent sounds of ventilator alarms, ringing telephones and nurse monitors. According to new research, such consistent hospital noise is not just irritating, but could actually be injurious to a person’s health.

Many hospitals do not take the problem of noise within their facilities very seriously. The main point of priority for many hospitals is reducing the risk of infections, and with good reason. After all, hospital-acquired infections injure or kill thousands of American patients every year.

However, hospitals could do a much better job of keeping patients safer and helping them recover quicker, by eliminating the amount of noise that is generated in a typical hospital. Modern hospitals are technologically sophisticated, and a patient in an intensive care unit may be hooked up to several alarms and monitors. From ventilator alarms and cardiac alarms to other monitors that beep with every minute change in the patient’s condition, hospital rooms are filled with noise.

Some patients may be at a much higher risk of being frequently disturbed by such noise levels. Researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a study this year which found that the average noise levels in some hospitals cross the 30 dB limit that is approved by the World Health Organization. Sometimes, in these hospitals, noise levels can approach the level of a chainsaw.

According to the research, patients who were in close proximity to such loud levels of noise lost as much as an hour of sleep per night. In these patients, the loss of sleep had dangerous consequences. The researchers found that for every hour of sleep that these patients lost, their blood pressure increased by 6 points.

Some hospital noises are much more disturbing and harmful to patient safety than others. For instance, according to one study, noises like ringing telephones, and beeping electronic alarms, were found to be much more disturbing than the rolling of a laundry cart. When patients were exposed to these loud noises like electronic alarms, there was an increase in their heart rates.
It’s important to understand that a patient sleeping in a hospital is not in the same condition as a person who is sleeping at home. In a hospital, patients may be tensed, and may be vigilant for threats. In that state of mind, even a ringing telephone could signify danger, and contribute to a spike in their heart rate. You don’t have to be in Indiana medical malpractice attorney to know that this isn’t good for a patient’s health.

Many companies have begun working on devices that help minimize the presence of alerts and monitors in order to reduce the risk of nurse alarm fatigue. It appears that those devices could also help reduce noise levels, and aid patient recovery too.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy represent persons injured as a result of medical negligence across Indiana.