Audio Setup For Medical And Dental Offices For An Improved Outcome
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Sound in a healthcare setting can have a massive impact on patients, staff and visitors. Unwanted noise can be detrimental to a patient’s health and therefore, speech intelligibility, audibility and privacy are to be kept in mind while communicating. This is where the importance of a well planned and executed audio setup for medical and dental offices comes to the forefront.

A persistent problem that is noticed in healthcare organizations around the world is the prevalence of unwanted noise. As per the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, background noise in medical and dental offices during daytime should be of an intensity of 35 ‘A’ weighted decibels (dBA). The guideline also states that the sound intensity at night should be maintained at 30 dBA, which should not exceed the limit of 40 dBA during the peak hours. In general, the sound level recorded at present is quite higher than the standards. It has risen to 72 dBA during the day and around 60 dBA at night, which is just double of the WHO standard. In some cases, it has also exceeded 85-90 dBA.

There are two main reasons cited for the increased noise in medical offices: presence of multiple noise sources and lack of adequate environmental and audio setup. This increased sound has some detrimental effects on the patients in the form of sleep disruption and awakening, annoyance, increased blood pressure and heart rates, decreased healing and increased hospitalization rate. Even for the staff, the surge in noise leads to annoyance, work pressure, stress, emotional exhaustion and difficulty in communication.

Due to inadequate audio setup for medical and dental offices, speech privacy and patient confidentiality may also be lost. As per the U.S. Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), private conversations and patient information is to be kept confidential. This requires proper speech recognition and sound masking systems in place to ensure that private conversations are not overheard by unintended listeners.

A well designed acoustical environment helps to address the sound and noise problems in healthcare organizations. Apart from installing a proper audio setup comprising wireless equipment, sound masking system etc.; sound absorbing ceiling tiles, single patient rooms and removing equipment causing loud noises also helps to reduce noise in hospitals and medical organizations. This helps to control the noise level as per the WHO guidelines on one hand and ensures confidentiality of patient information and other private chats concerning patients and staff on the other.

Thus, for patient safety, it’s necessary to have a proper audio setup in hospitals to ensure intelligent and effective communication, without unnecessary stress, anxiety, annoyance, disturbance and health risks.

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