Noise pollution in the intensive care unit?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Crit Care Med


Learning Objectives: Sound levels in the ICUs vary, but usually are above the recommended level, which possibly has a negative impact on patient healing and recovery. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends noise levels in the ICU to be an average of 35 dBA. We hypothesized that the noise level in our unit needs improvement. Implementing a noise detector will decrease the noise level in the ICU setting. Methods: A prospective study where sound levels were collected in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and the Cardio-Thoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) in a tertiary care academic center. The noise levels were collected using a phone application, Decible X Pro (Sky Paw, Hanoi, Vietnam). Noise levels were collected during different periods throughout the days, evenings and nights. Maximum, minimum and average levels were recorded. The noise levels were collected in the central nursing stations, patient's rooms, hallways, during different scenarios as conversations, alarms, transferring patients and shift changes. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 24.0 (IBM. Chicago, IL). Significance was defined as p < 0.05 for all statistical tests. Univariate analysis was done using the two-tailed Student's T-Test to compare means. After a 6 month period of collecting data, the same method of noise level collection was done after installing a noise detector in the ICU in the form of stoplight (Attension-Gettes Inc., Chico, CA) mounted on the wall, where it flashed green, yellow and red according to the noise level. Results: A total of 131 sound level recordings were obtained. There were 53 recordings in the CTICU with an average of 64.5 dBA. and 78 recordings in the SICU with an average of 60.3 dBA., P <0.001. The average duration of recording was 11.1 minutes for each instance. The noise levels detected in areas with noise detector stoplight were found to have an average of 59.3 dBA, with spotlight detector 61.3 dBA, and without the spotlight detector 57.1 dBA, P=0.17. The maximum recorded sound in both ICUs was 107.5 dBA, during a code blue, and the minimum recorded sound was 47.1 dBA in a quite patient room. Conclusions: Noise levels in the ICU are above the recommended levels by the WHO. Implementing the noise detector didn't help reduce the noise levels. More research and other methods should be sought to reduce noise levels in the ICU.





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