Hospitals are noisy. They don’t have to be.

Photo credit: Vidal Balielo Jr.

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The title of this post is also the title of an article on the Association of American Medical College’s website by a medical student at University of California Los Angeles and a surgical trainee at Johns Hopkins University.

Zina Jawadi and Alexander Chern describe caring for a patient with appendicitis and hyperacusis, a sensitivity to noise that doesn’t bother others. Jawadi has hearing loss, so she has special insight into the problems those with auditory disorders face. When the medical students noticed that noise was bothering the patient, they moved him to a quieter place and offered him earplugs. They discuss the fact that noise is stressful for patients, and go on to describe the many steps that can be taken to make hospitals quieter places for patients, staff and visitors. They include links to many useful references throughout the article. 

The authors conclude, “as we continue to improve health care and to identify systemic barriers to improved patient care, particularly for communities that are marginalized, we strongly encourage health systems and leaders to address noise pollution. Creating a more favorable auditory environment willt facilitate better communication among medical teams, improve the patient care experience, and protect the hearing of everyone in the hospital.”

I couldn’t agree more. A quieter hospital will be a better and healthier place for sick people, visitors and hospital staff, just as a quieter world will be a better and healthier place for all.

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