For many years, carpet was considered a no-no for use in most hospital settings beyond waiting areas. The most oft-cited reason was cleanability, as well as a perceived added difficulty for caregivers pushing carts and other wheeled equipment.
However, with the growing awareness of the noise issue in hospitals—including the potential financial repercussions, based on the HCAHPS system and the reimbursements tied to it—carpet is getting a second look in some facilities looking to decrease overall noise levels.
Carpet will never be the right choice for certain areas of any hospital. It’s not suited for areas such as surgery or the ER, with their potential for bodily fluid spills and the need to move carts in a hurry. But for the average patient unit, carpet can actually provide a preferred option, as well as the most quiet one. Low-pile carpet is relatively easy to clean with a standard vacuum cleaner, and modern carpet tiles can be individually replaced if soiling occurs.
While carpet may make it more difficult for caregivers to push wheeled equipment around, a low-pile option will keep resistance to a minimum, and the padded footfall can increase comfort for staff who are walking up and down corridors all day.
Most importantly, carpet can help to create a more tranquil environment for the patient. It is far quieter and naturally warmer on bare feet than solid surfaces, and in some cases may lead to an increased feeling of “home.” These factors make carpet a choice worth considering in most patient units.
Only time will tell if we will begin to see more carpeted patient units. But as technology evolves and noise becomes an even bigger factor than it already is, carpet may just turn out to be a logical solution after all.