Noise – The Most Common Complaint About Hospital Stays


If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to spend some time in the hospital you know what it’s like to struggle to get some much needed rest! Disturbances such as voices echoing in the hallways, squeaky cart wheels, the beeping of monitoring equipment, and busy nurses’ stations can be a serious detriment to patient recovery. It has been found that an environment which produces fewer disruptions and allows for more consistent patient rest, contributes to faster recovery and lower readmission rates.

In March of 2008, agencies within The Federal Department of Health and Human Services implemented The HCAHPS, (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) Survey in order to collect data for measuring patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. Recent refinements have been made in order to collect data to include the variable “Quiet”. The survey asks, “During this hospital stay, how often was the area around your room quiet at night?” The results were that more than half of all U.S. hospitals failed in the area of providing quiet comfort.

The good news is that now with noise levels under scrutiny, hospitals are rising to the challenge of improving their survey numbers with an emphasis on acoustic atmosphere.

So what about the sounds that are impossible or impractical to eliminate? SOUND MASKING! Commonly called “white noise machines,” sound masking systems baffle the atmosphere across a space while still allowing for clear communications where desired. Lencore Acoustics, the leader in sound masking technology, implements digital audio processing into their systems, making it possible to tailor just the right softening tone for many different rooms, corridors and open spaces.

In addition to unwanted noise, patients are becoming more and more aware of protecting their private information. A sound masking system’s ability to knock down the voice level of nearby conversations increases privacy and provides additional safety in complying with HIPAA, (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), regulations. This act provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding patients’ medical information, particularly in areas such as admissions desks, pharmacies, and waiting rooms.

Oeler Industries, Inc. is a continuing participant in providing local hospitals and health care facilities with state of the art sound masking systems and acoustic solutions.