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Noisy Hospitals Need Rx for Quiet as Patients Rest PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:56

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anyone who's had a hospital stay knows the beeping monitors, the pagers and phones, the hallway chatter, the roommate, even the squeaky laundry carts all make for a not-so-restful place to heal.

Hospitals need a prescription for quiet, and new research suggests it may not be easy to tamp down all the noise for a good night's sleep.

In fact, the wards with the sickest patients — the intensive care units — can be the loudest.

"It's just maddening," says Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, sleep medicine chief at Massachusetts General Hospital. He pointed to one study that found the decibel level in ICUs reaches that of a shout about half the time.

Patient satisfaction surveys are packed with complaints that the clamor makes it hard to sleep. Yet remarkably little is known about exactly how that affects patients' bodies — and which types of noises are the most disruptive to shut-eye. So Ellenbogen and researchers from Harvard and the Cambridge Health Alliance recorded different kinds of hubbub in a community hospital in Boston's suburbs to try to find out.

Since it wouldn't be appropriate to experiment on sick people by disrupting their sleep, 12 healthy volunteers were enlisted.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:59