Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

Thoughts and ideas on healthcare

Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

Auditory Environment in Hospitals Shown to be a Risk Factor

October 28, 2011

Hospital NoiseOctober is stunning. The complexity of the fall colors is breathtaking.

And at some point in November, a good wind will come and blow all of these leaves to the ground, creating the thick blanket of leaves that we all begin to rake!

The healthcare environment has approached its fall; meaning, the sounds are of many colors, volumes, and timbres, rendering an almost impenetrable wall of sounds that is deafening nurses to critical alerts.

In October, I was part of a delegation from the acoustic community to attend the first Medical Device Alarm Fatigue Summit in Washington, DC. The topic was exactly as I just described.

The auditory environment in the hospital, with the complexity of multiple alarms for each patient amidst an already highly orchestrated background noise, has finally shown itself to be an actual risk factor.

The outcome of this facilitated workshop, attended by over 300 people from biomedical engineering, to nursing, to medicine, to medical product manufacturers and the FDA and Joint Commission, came up with immediate and long-term measures to reduce the challenges that are now being lived through each day.

The environment of care, as Florence Nightingale so clearly stated, either contributes to recovery or is itself a risk factor. This identified challenge in the auditory environment illuminates the need to design a healing sound environment, rather than one out of control.