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Curing the Noise Epidemic: How Loud is Your Design?

“Unnecessary noise, or noise that creates an expectation in the mind, is that which
hurts a patient. It is rarely the loudness of the noise…which appears to affect the sick.”
Florence Nightingale

From heightened anxiety and stress, to medical errors, to staff burnout, to HIPAA violations, that hospital noise is pandemic is well known. For patients and families, quality of care is lived beyond the hospital bed and often beyond the hospital room. The patient experience extends to what patients see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. Ongoing efforts to reduce noise in hospitals, including the “quiet at night.” campaigns, have limited success due to a misunderstanding regarding the characteristics of a restful environment. In her writing about the environment, Florence Nightingale, was very clear about separating loudness of sound from its meaning to the patient who hears it. “Noise that creates anticipation, expectation, fear of surprise, damages the patient.”  The auditory environment is the least controllable and the most pervasive, involving communications, technology, family dialogue, sounds of recovery and sounds of disease. Noise thrives on itself, pushing all dialogues up in volume and threatening privacy as well as increasing stress. Whether the result of the wrong conversation in the wrong place or the right conversation in an unfortunate place, talk mixed with sounds of technology causes its own symptoms.  This one hour webinar will embed the issues of noise as a critical outcome of health design and provide both insights and frameworks for creating a healing, restful environment.