Best Practices to Reduce Noise

  • • Install special acoustical tiles to help absorb sound and reduce noise levels.
  • • Use a noiseless paging system by contacting individuals through vibrating phones.
  • • Provide single bedrooms rather than multiple bedrooms.
  • • Train all staff to reduce the volume of their voices especially in corridors.
  • • Only use medical alarms when absolutely necessary.
  • • Do not check vital signs unless medically necessary during the sleep hours of patients.
  • • Monitor levels of noise in different parts of the hospital and determine how best to lower the level.
  • • Provide sleep mask and earplugs for patients where feasible.
  • • Program TVs so that the volume cannot exceed acceptable levels and use headsets where appropriate.

Surfaces (See endnote 10)

The hospital environment may contribute to the transmission of organisms that may cause healthcare-associated infections. Surfaces within the hospital and other healthcare settings may become easily contaminated with a variety of microorganisms, some of which may be pathogenic. Patients, staff, visitors, and others may be the source of the contamination or the surfaces may become contaminated by individuals touching the surface or stirring up contaminated dust on the surface into the air and inhaling it. The ability of the microorganism to persist on the surface depends on several factors including the nature and quantity of the organism, the presence of organic matter, and the presence of moisture. Contamination can be spread from individuals who are sick from a given microorganism or individuals who show no symptoms but still carry the organisms in their nose and throat, on their skin, or in feces or urine and then contaminate surfaces with their hands. The actual amount of contamination that is spread in this manner is not well understood.

Surfaces include all areas such as floors, beds, bedside tables, windowsills, wall areas, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, medical equipment, etc. The surfaces may also become contaminated by poor housekeeping techniques and/or by the sheer number of people in the area. Microorganisms may grow because of availability of substances supporting bacterial growth, type of surface, and whether the surface is horizontal or vertical.

Although carpet in certain hospital areas is effective in reducing noise, making walking easier, and reducing the number of falls and seriousness of the injuries in patient care areas, carpeting may contain fungi and bacteria. Carpeting is harder to clean, especially after spills of body fluids and blood substances. Pushing of carts and beds is more difficult. Vacuum cleaners can easily move microorganisms from the carpet into the air where they become potential airborne infections.

The reduction of surface contamination in good part depends on the people carrying out the necessary cleaning and disinfecting processes, the cleanliness and maintenance of the equipment utilized, the nature of the detergents and disinfectants being used, the frequency of the changing of cleaning solutions, the amount of traffic in a given area, the type of air flow and use of filters, and the presence of infected individuals, either sick or healthy carriers.

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