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Home » Blog » 2012 » December » Shhh...Silent Hospitals Help Healing. How are WE doing?

Shhh...Silent Hospitals Help Healing. How are we doing?

Studies show that quiet environments promote patient healing and also reduce staff and patient stress. In fact, the World Health Organization says hospitals should operate at or below 32 decibels for optimum healing. We will soon find out how we are doing at Flagler as we circulate decibel readers throughout the facility in the coming weeks.

So far, we have encouraged closing patient doors when safe and comfortable for them, fixing noisy equipment, reducing overhead pages, placing phones on vibrate and, of course, keeping our voices down to support a quiet environment. What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you comfortable asking others politely to be quiet? Do you think our decibels readings will be close to the recommended 32? Please give us your feedback!


I think we need to recognize the need for hushed voices circumstantially as well. For example, I was in the ER with my toddler son as a patient with an injured hand. He was scared and in pain and before they attempted to apply the dressing, meds were given to control the pain thus calm him down. The assistant was extremely helpful, friendly and knowledgeable, but when he reentered the room to prep for the dressing, his voice was loud which riled up my son and got him all upset again. It would have been helpful if he had done what he needed to do quietly while the nurse was waiting for the meds to kick in.
I think we all tend to forget how much sound travels. I think everyone can use a gentle reminder when that happens. we need to remember, from the patient and their loved ones, we all are part of flagler's family. Let's extend the same conciderations that we want extended to ourselves.
I have no problem asking co-workers to lower their voices, however not much caring when the noise level especially during change of shift. I wonder sometimes if many of the staff has not been in the hospital where they can actually understand how noisy it can actually get. I do know many patients, some, do not like their door closed, the feeling of being closed in. So we all, and myself included, need to really try and keep our voices down.
As a former patient (2 and 1/2 months) I had extensive experience regarding hospital "noise". There wasn't much of a problem during the day (although in one unit the problem never ceased). It was at night when there was that brief bit of time when I might get some sleep before they came to draw my blood in the morning that the sound was most anoying. At one point I was on a ventolator and had no control over anything. Coming in and out of consciousness I could hear the sound of talking and laughter. Not being able to hear the conservations all I could hear was people laughing. It was distorted and hideous. I thought to myself that this must be what Hell is like (one is restrained, in misery and others are laughing at their misery). The sound of the ventolator "horn" was particulary distressing. The alarms on the IV pumps were also anoying. If the night shift would keep their "socializing" away from the patient rooms that would hlep very much. Other than the above I think the noise level was fine there is no need to tiptoe around the hospital during the day time.
great idea, its all about the patients!
Quiet environments are also better work environments. The reductions in overhead pages has decreased the stress on the psych unit for not only the patients but the staff as well. Thumbs Up!
First I think this is a fabulous initiative. While my ofc is not in a clinical area, it is on a corner of a busy hallway. This hallway has always been somewhat noisy; from folks talking very loudly on cell phones to noisy carts being pushed quickly down the hall. Once the iniative was announced I found myself noticing the noises more. When the hallway was carpeted I did not hear footsteps, but now with the hard surface floors I literally hear people coming and going. Which brings me to my suggestion; encourage staff to "listen" to their shoes. If they clip clop down the hallway-then please consider shoes that are soft soled. Pick your feet up and walk, shuffling along dragging your feet is very noisy. People holding conversations in a hallway or on a cell should be mindful that voices carry farther than you think. I have heard some very interesting things from my office. Speak in a normal voice into a cell phone-you don't need to shout.
It is interesting to me that many years ago when I was a candy striper at FH, on Marine Street, one of the things I vividly remember being stressed to us was to be "quietly helpful." Quiet at a Hospital was expected, there were signs reminding people: "Quiet Please." If you weren't quiet, someone WOULD politiely say "shhhh, please."
It is so true when the folks below said patients have a lot of time on their hands to listen/hear every sound, every word.
This is something we all can do!!!
This is the BEST initiative instituted by a hospital! Working in an OR for 24 years, we seem to forget that even though most of the time our patients are asleep, they are awake in the holding area and PACU. We think they don't hear us, but they do, and they hear everything! We need to remember that when patient's are sick and waiting for a procedure, they literally are lying in a bed with nothing to do but watch and listen to their surroundings. The SHHHH initiative is something we initiate in the OR when patient's are going to sleep and upon awakening from their procedure, but it needs to be continued from preoperative through the whole hospital experience. I have had several family members and friends in various hospitals and many patients have complained that they want to go home to get some rest and heal. That is very sad to hear. I have asked other coworkers to SHHH and sometimes I have gotten looks, or not so nice comments, but I still feel that I am a patient advocate and will continue to help make Flagler Hospital a hospital that the community will feel proud to come and be taken care of in a professional, caring and compasionate manner. Keep up the good work!
I think instituting and promoting this Program is quite commendable. As of days of old when being quiet was a staple in hospitals, I am extremely glad to see that what worked in the past is making a comeback. Being quiet in a healing and recuperating environment is an essential, added treatment to the patient's well-being and comfort. Having had the patient experience myself, reducing the noise component is a "welcome" relief for the prognosis of the patient. Thank you to Flagler Hospital for being committed to the importance of "silent" care and the benefits it will bring to its healing environment :-)
I love the idea of a decible reader. We get so busy caring for our patients that we forget our noise levels. I appreciate it when someone reminds me that I am too loud and I don't mind asking someone to "tone it down". We just need to remember to be kind when we are asking others to do that and to remember that when others are asking us to be quieter that it is for the greater good of our patients that we serve.
I have an idea that can help nurses see if it getting to loud in their area. A decibel reader that looks like a traffic light. Green light stays lit as long as the noise stays below a certain level, but if that level begins to rise the caution light (yellow)turns on instead of green and the red if it continues to rise to alert everyone of how loud it really is. This brings awareness to all.
Love the idea! It is difficult to realize how loud a hospital is until you're a patient and you're trying to sleep. As a recent patient - I was so surprised at out how loud the "little things" suddently seemed! Things like icemakers, closing doors, other visitors etc. I look forward to seeing the postiive impacts of this program!!!
I think this is a great program. I just started working here a couple of weeks ago and am amazed how quiet the hospital is. Everyone is doing a great job. I will be more aware of my surroundings and help us reach our goal.
This is an excellent idea. From spending time in the past in my Dad's hospital rooms, a quieter environment would be greatly appreciated, and help patients get more rest.
Excellent idea! As a past ICU and PACU nurse, patients would comment to me on how magnified sounds seemed to them. What a comforting environment we give our patients by turning down the volume!
I have the same concerns as Tammy below. I feel that we need some signs out in the 2nd floor Radiology Reception area to please be considerate of others and to please be quiet. When whole families are out waiting for babies it gets extremely noisy at times like a big party atmosphere. PLEASE BIG SIGNS if at all possible.
I really like how we have initiated this concept at Flagler Hospital. However, it does become a sticky situation when you have families that are waiting for more joyous occasions like a baby that are happy and they are 98% of the time louder than we would like. I do not feel comfortable approaching them to please keep their tone down, so if it gets too out of hand then I call security to please ask them. Security is more than willing to do this for us as receptionists and we do really appreciate it. Having doors not slam but close at a much slower pace helps keep the noise down as well. Kudos to everyone that is implementing this policy.
I think it is great for the patients healing in providing a quiet environment for them. It really shows that our facility has compassion towards our patients and that we provide the quality health care they need in order to get better. I would be courteous and professional in asking someone to keep their voice down.
I would suggest that certain hallways be designated to transport equipment, carts, ect. Any hallways that are unavoidable have the doors to the patient areas closed. Another idea is quiet zones. Just like our rivers and creeks have "No Wake Zones" for boaters to slow down, perhaps we could have some signs in patient areas that have a "Quiet Zone" message or something to that effect. This should help reduce the decibel level for these areas to an acceptable level for optimum healing of our patients.

It’s been my experience that the majority of the hospital staff I come in contact with are aware of the S.H.H.H. initiative and are doing what’s within their power to quiet operations, but a "Quiet Zone" sign would serve as a good reminder for those that are caught up in their work.
I will admit that as an extrovert being quiet is not easy for me. As I walk the halls of the hospital I have to force myself to remember our quiet initiative. Just because I am not a direct care giver does not mean that this initiative does not impact me. I have to talk all the time in my job as most of us do, this initiative helps me focus on where I do that talking and how it impacts others around me. How can I do this better? How can I help others with this initiative? Well, while I am normally irritated by constant reminders, the shhhhh reminders around the hospital actually do help me as I walk around more focused on my job than on being quiet, so, signs and reminders help me do this better. I can help others be reminding them in staff meetings and training sessions. We are all in this together. One person cannot make this needed improvement alone, we must work together and that may mean at times, getting a little bit out of our comfort zone by reminder others who may be speaking too loudly to keep it down. If you are too uncomfortable with this, find a supervisor who may have some additional training, they can help deliver the needed reminder.
I love the idea of quiet so much I think it should be like that within each department, even if the patients are no where near that department. Co-workers should be quiet around each other while they are working. Quiet is good for both the patients AND employees!