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Intensive Care Med. 1993;19(6):343-6.

Noise in the ICU.

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1
Klinik für Anästhesie und Allgemeine Intensivmedizin, University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The growing number of technical devices in ICUs makes noise exposure a major stressor. The purpose of this study was to assess noise levels during routine operation in our ICU.

DESIGN:

Our ICU is an open ward with four rooms, constructed in the 1960s. During the study period, 4 patients were in the controlled room and were treated by 4 nurses during the day and by 2 at night. A-weighted sound pressure levels (SPL) were measured continuously for 2 days and nights. Also measured were the alarms of various appliances. For gross overall evaluation it is customary to state the Leq, i.e. the energy-averaged level during measurement. The annoyance caused by noise depends more on rare events of high intensity. Therefore, the distribution of SPL values (Ln) over time was also analysed.

RESULTS:

SPL was roughly the same during the day and at night, with Leq between 60-65 dB(A) and peaks up to 96 dB(A). Most alarms reach an SPL of 60-70 dB(A), but some exceed 80 dB(A). During teaching rounds Leq exceeds 65 dB(A).

CONCLUSION:

During the day and at night SPL always surpasses the permissible noise exposure for 24 h of 45 db(A) recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Alarms cause the most irritating noise. Hospital management should pay attention to internal noise, and SPL should be measured routinely.

PMID:
8227725
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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