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Shh Shh Shh.....Baat Nahi Karo: Hospitals should be Silence Zones

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Dr KK Aggarwal    11 October 2017

Noise is a well-recognized problem in hospitals. Air-conditioning systems, medical devices, phones, pagers, alarms, people movement, conversations etc. all constitute background noise in hospitals. Adding to this is the traffic-related noise, as many hospitals may be located in congested areas.Noise has been recognized as an environmental stressor, which has both physiological and psychological effects. A growing body of literature has demonstrated the potential negative impact of noise pollution in hospitals on patients as well as doctors. Noise disrupts sleep, both quantity and quality of sleep. Sleeping is one way that the body recuperates and recovers from damage. A well-rested body is up to meeting the challenges and stress of daily life. Hence, sleep is very important for patient recovery. A noisy environment also weakens the immune system, increases BP and heart rate and adversely affects wound healing, pain management. Being exposed to constant noise may cause anxiety, stress and increase blood pressure. All these can delay patient recovery and increase hospital stay. Not only patients, doctors too are not left untouched by the negative impact of noise. Reduced concentration, headache, anxiety, annoyance/irritability resulting in reduced work efficiency are some of the outcomes of noise pollution. Perhaps most importantly, hospital noise interferes with oral communication, causing medical errors; at times with disastrous consequences for patient safety. Sound-alike drugs can cause confusion e.g. Isoprin/Isoptin, Amlopress AT/80mg.Controlling noise pollution is the need of the hour, particularly in relation to hospitals. Hospitals need to be silence zones as also areas up to 100 m around them Permissible noise limits in Silence zone are 50 dB in daytime (6am to 10 pm) and 40 dB in night time (10 pm to 6am). Public awareness is also very important to prevent and control noise pollution in hospitals. The general public needs to be sensitized to the adverse health impact of noise pollution. In an effort to control noise pollution within the hospitals, IMA will launch Silent Hour in medical establishments. We will observe silence from 2 pm to 4 pm every day, when everyone should not talk or speak very softly to minimize noise. Shh Shh Shh ... Baat Nahi Karo

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