Excessive hospital noise is stressful for both patients and nurses and can lead to medical errors due to alarm fatigue. To address these issues, Eve Edelstein, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, is collaborating with University of California San Diego Music and Sonic Arts Professor Peter Otto on unique noise reduction strategies, KPBS Radio reports.
Edelstein, a neuroscientist and architect, measured sound levels in emergency departments during shift changes and found levels as high as 100-110 decibels, equivalent to the noise levels of a jet engine. To explore new ways of reducing the noise, Edelstein partnered with Otto, who developed a “sound bender,” a small machine that directs sound in a specific direction without allowing it to spill over to other locations.
In a hospital setting, the sound bender could be used to channel the sound and restrict it specifically to the people who need to hear it, Otto told KPBS. For example, announcements or alarms could specifically be directed to nurses’ stations without disturbing patients or other staff.
Otto is also exploring the effects of different building materials, room sizes, and room shapes on acoustics in hospitals, according to the article.