Architectural Engineering


Date of this Version



©2011, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. Reprinted by permission from ASHRAE Transactions, Vol 117, Part 1, 2011. This material may not be copied nor distributed in either paper or digital form without ASHRAE’s permission


Acoustic conditions in hospitals can negatively influence a patient’s physical and psychological health. This paperreports on noise levels measured before, during, and after renovation of a hospital wing in an Omaha, Nebraska, facility thatregularly receives unsatisfactory noise scores on patient satisfaction surveys. Sound pressure levels were logged every 10seconds over four-day periods in three different locations: at the nurses' station, in the hallway, and in a nearby patient’sroom. The resulting data have been analyzed in terms of A-weighted equivalent sound levels (LAeq) as well as variousexceedance levels (Ln). Results indicate that sound levels did not change much due to the renovation, due to a reduction inthe scope of the renovation after the start of this project. The noise levels measured did regularly exceed currentlyrecommended guidelines for hospital noise, though. A concurrent subjective survey on patient perception of hospital noisewas conducted in the hospital wing during and after the renovation. Results from that survey show that patients in thishospital wing were most concerned with noise that originates from within their room, often linked to medical equipment ortheir roommate. The heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems ranked quite low among noise sources of concern atthis facility. Based on the survey results, it does not seem that adding absorptive materials to the hallway or nearby nurses’stations would reduce noise from the sources considered most bothersome by the patients in this case study