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Are ICUs too loud?

Are ICUs too loud?
18th September 2012

A new study in Sweden has suggested that intensive care units (ICU) could be too loud for patients.

Researchers observed that many people were being treated in environments with sound levels more than 20 dB higher than those recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The discovery was made when 13 seriously ill patients in the ICU at Södra Älvsborg Hospital were monitored over a 24 hour period.

It was observed that sound levels were on average between 51 and 55 dB, which is comparable to a busy road.

While the study was conducted in Sweden, its findings have implications for the UK and similar investigations could be held to better understand noise conditions in ICUs and their implications for health outcomes.

Dr Lotta Johansson, leader of the Swedish study, claims that noise could disturb and frighten patients.

"One patient also described how the sounds around him had entered into his dreams and hallucinations," she added.

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