Aims/Objectives/Background In the Emergency department (ED), noise is a frequent and often unavoidable consequence of work undertaken and levels can often be raised during the day and night. Raised ambient noise levels have potential implications for the workforce, patients and relatives.
Investigation into the problem of noise levels in the ED follows feedback from a young patient who couldn’t sleep during a prolonged stay. His complaint focused on loud, irregular banging noises such as those from closing bins that kept him awake.
The team felt work should be done to see if it was a wider spread problem or just isolated to his case. A simple sound recording experiment and literature search was conducted.
Methods/Design The literature search was conducted using electronic/online databases (Medline; Cochrane library) with a fixed date range and specific inclusion criteria.
The noise exposure experiment was conducted using a verified phone app to record the sound levels. They were measured at 3 times, during a night shift, in the paediatric emergency department of UHW. All measurements were at a fixed distance and were averaged and compared with WHO recommendations.
Results/Conclusions There are many sources of noise pollution in the ED, some are unavoidable for safety and clinical reasons.
The literature review produced a small number of papers all of which found that sound levels were raised above recommended levels. Similarly, all the sounds measured in the ED also exceeded the recommendations.
The most consistent finding across the papers, matched by findings from recordings, was that human behavioural modification is an easy and effective way to reduce noise levels.
There are simple steps that can be taken to reduce and eliminate sounds
Raising awareness regarding this problem is of great importance and focussing future work on assessing the impact in younger patients within the Emergency Department is paramount.
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