Published: Apr. 29, 2009
Updated: May 12, 2009
By Michael Gowan
A hospital can often be noisy and bustling. There’s a lot going on -- nurses, doctors, and staff are in constant movement to serve patients and keep the environment safe and clean.
But research shows that people heal more quickly in a quiet, peaceful environment. At Duke Raleigh Hospital, Laura Tavares, RN, led an innovative effort to keep the noise down -- SHHH! or Silent Hospital Helps Healing.
The steps to create a quiet zone were implemented on Duke Raleigh’s fifth floor. One of the measures taking -- the Yacker Tracker -- used a sound meter that measures the noise level in decibels around the nurses’ station. When the Yacker Tracker hits 70 decibels, a red light goes off, letting the staff know it’s time to quiet down.
As part of this quiet zone project, Duke Raleigh took additional steps to keep the noise down. The intercom was turned off (individual phones were used to communicate instead) and signs were posted to remind visitors to speak quietly.
Duke Raleigh patient Gay D. Reeves says the efforts work. During a two-week stay, she rarely noticed any noise, even at the height of the day’s activities. “I’d rather not be sick,” she says, “but I’m quite comfortable here. I like this hospital.”
Press Ganey survey results show the efforts to keep noise down worked. During the six months of the quiet zone project, patients that indicated the noise level was "very good" increased 6 percent.