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Effect of Environmental Changes on Noise in the NICU

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Purpose: To evaluate the effect of changes in the NICU environment on sound levels.

Design: A prospective quasi-experimental design evaluated sound levels in a 43-bed NICU. Decibel levels were monitored utilizing a data-logging dosimeter for 24 hours weekly over 12 months. Sound levels were also measured inside four different incubator models.

Sample: Forty-four 24-hour decibel recordings were obtained in one of eight randomly selected four-bed pods. In addition, a single 1-hour recording was obtained in four different models of vacant incubators.

Main Outcome Variable: Ambient sound levels.

Results: Decibel levels were analyzed to identify changes in noise levels following alterations in the NICU environment. Installation of motion-sensing motorized paper towel holders significantly increased levels at beds closest to the towel dispensers, as did the trial of a new communication system. Decibel levels in four different incubators revealed varying noise levels. This study suggests that all environmental changes must be monitored to ensure that they reduce rather than increase noise levels.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-07-01

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