Hospital visitors chatting and people talking on their mobile phone are creating far too much noise for recovering patients, a study has found.
Research claims such noise could “stress out” patients and diminish their chance of restful sleep.
Noise levels on a general medical ward were monitored by a team from Musgrove Park Hospital, Somerset.
World Health Organization guidelines state that patients should not be exposed to noise levels higher than 35 decibels.
But the study, carried out over a two-week period during the night and day, found noise levels were more than 25 decibels higher than the recommendation.
During the day, noise was typically 65 decibels, and 62.5 at night.
But when new measures were introduced - such as bringing in quiet-closing bins, closing the doors to bays at night and restricting visitors to designated times, noise levels dropped considerably.
The amount of time that noise levels exceeded 60 decibels was cut from 82% to 76%, with the greatest impact at night (75% to 59%).
Particular complaints among patients related to the use of mobile phones on the ward.
The research will be presented at The British Thoracic Society’s annual meeting in London.
Lead author Dr Anna Hutchings said: “Our research shows that simple, cost effective measures, such as quiet closing bins and patient and visitor education, can result in quieter wards.”