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J Acoust Soc Am. 2014 Apr;135(4):1875-86. doi: 10.1121/1.4868367.

Analysis of the soundscape in an intensive care unit based on the annotation of an audio recording.

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Philips Research Laboratories, High Tech Campus 36, 5656 AE Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Jeroen Bosch Hospital, P.O. Box 90153, 5200 ME 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.


The acoustic environments in hospitals, particularly in intensive care units (ICUs), are characterized by frequent high-level sound events which may negatively affect patient outcome. Many studies performed acoustic surveys, but the measurement protocol was not always reported in detail, and the scope of analysis was limited by the selected mode of sound level meters. Fewer studies systematically investigated the noise sources in ICUs by employing an observer in the patient room, which may potentially bias the measurement. In the current study, the soundscape of an ICU was evaluated where acoustic parameters were extracted from a ∼67-h audio recording, and a selected 24-h recording was annotated off-line for a source-specific analysis. The results showed that the patient-involved noise accounted for 31% of the acoustic energy and 11% of the predicted loudness peaks (PLPs). Excluding the patient-involved noise, the remaining acoustic energy was attributed to staff members (57%), alarms (30%), and the operational noise of life-supporting devices (13%). Furthermore, the contribution of each noise category to the PLPs was found to be more uneven: Staff (92%), alarms (6%), and device noise (2%). The current study suggests that most of the noise sources in ICUs may be associated with modifiable human factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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