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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 5, Issue 2, Pages 229-246
Research Article

Reducing Hospital ICU Noise: A Behavior-Based Approach

Avinash Konkani,1,2 Barbara Oakley,1 and Barbara Penprase3

1Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA
2Department of Clinical Engineering, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA
3School of Nursing, Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA

Received 1 August 2013; Accepted 1 February 2014

Copyright © 2014 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Noise in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) is gaining increasing attention as a significant source of stress and fatigue for nursing staff. Extensive research indicates that hospital noise also has negative impact on patients. The objective of this study was to analyze noise variations as experienced by both nursing staff and patients, to gain a better understanding of noise levels and frequencies observed in ICU settings over extended (week-long) durations, and to implement a low cost behavior modification program to reduce noise. The results of our study indicate that behavioral modification alone is not adequate to control excessive noise. There is a need for further research involving the supportive involvement by clinicians, ICU staff, along with effective medical device alarm management, and continuous process improvement methods.