NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Patients often complain that hospital noise keeps them awake, but British researchers say simple things can lower noise levels by 20 percent.
Researchers at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust say 46 staff members took part in the initiative involving three wards with a total of 92 beds. The training was delivered on an individual basis by the same staff nurse to ensure consistency.
"Hospitals can be very noisy places" lead author Annette Richardson says in a statement. "Dropping a stainless steel bowl creates 108 decibels, which is more than the 100 decibels from a nearby car horn or chainsaw. Even opening a packet of rubber gloves creates 86 decibels, which is louder than heavy traffic at 80 decibels."
A number of practical steps were taken to reduce noise involving the door entry system; the position, number and volume of telephones; the patient line system; the nurse call system and the physical make-up of the ward, including floors, drawers and trash bins.
"Our study found that peak decibel levels at the start of the study were 96.48 decibels over 24 hours and at the end of the study they had gone down to 77.52 decibels."
The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.