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Reducing noise in the 21st Century Hospital

Florence Nightingale, back in 1859, called noise a “… cruel absence of care … which hurts a patient.”

The auditory environment of the 21st century hospital is substantially louder, more complex and more difficult to control than that of Nightingale’s time. An article in the Boston Globe on noise in hospitals reported that noise levels have doubled since the 1960s.

Numerous reports and studies point to the harmful effects of noise, which primarily include:

  • Intensive care psychosis or delirium has been directly linked to environmental stressors – noise, sleep deprivation and social isolation being primary.


The designer’s bag of tricks to reduce noise in the patent space is quite full – from tuning HVAC to sound absorbing materials, to name just two examples.  It’s important to realize there is no silver bullet … but instead it takes a series of smaller, incremental steps to reach the higher goal.


Curtain track and privacy curtains help reduce noise in patient rooms

Hospital cubicle curtains can have some – albeit small – positive impact on sound.  But where the biggest gains can be made is in the selection of the hospital curtain track system itself.  Case in point:

With the help of engineers at SSA Acoustics, St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Wash., reduced the sound coming from privacy curtain track an astounding 75% by selecting a bendable privacy curtain track and carrier vs. traditional aluminum grooved track.


The installation of Formatrac® Bendable Track at St. Joseph’s means less screeching and grinding as staff opens and closes the curtain.  The key is in the proprietary polymer coating over the flexible aluminum, combined with a specially designed carrier that glides along the track.  This means a quieter, restful experience for the patient, and the potential for a faster discharge.  Florence Nightingale would smile.


Additional Resources 

Download our Noise Reduction Strategies for the 21st Century Hospital White Paper for more information about the overall effect of noise on patients as well as how to reduce hospital noise and patient discomfort.

Download White Paper

Check out the entire Clickeze® Privacy Curtain Track line here, including noise reduction options like Formatrac® and Whisper Cube®.