A comparison of sound levels in open plan versus pods in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Yvonne Karen Parry, Karlie Ramm, Carol Gaffney, Trudi Mannix

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Background: The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a busy environment with ambient noise levels that often exceed established recommendations (L45dBA (decibels)). This noise deleteriously affects the physiological stability and developmental outcomes of sick and preterm infants. Pod designs have reduced numbers of cots in them compared to open plan NICUs and offer a more family friendly setting for neonates and their families, yet the noise levels in pods has not been reported.
    Aim: The objective of this study was to compare the noise levels in a NIC pod setting with those in an open plan NICU in the same hospital.
    Methods: Dosimeters collected continuous data for a period of four weeks in both areas, and recorded maximum and minimum decibels every 60 seconds during that period. In addition, the researchers collected observational data at random periods during the four weeks in both areas to link peaks or troughs in noise with specific activities.
    Results: The average decibel recording for the open plan setting for the quietest period between 0100 to 0200 hours was 49.05dBA, and this was higher than the pod dBA at 44.5dBA for the same time period. Observational data confirmed the relationship between handover from 2-3pm, and the higher than average decibel reading of 53.1dBA in the open plan NICU, and 51 dBAb in the pod at the same time.
    Conclusion: Decibel recordings in both areas were over the recommended limits, especially during peak activity periods such as ward round and handover. The noise in the pod setting was less than in the open plan setting, but this result was not statistically significantly. The strength of this study is the homogeneity between the two settings where the only difference is the design of the rooms. Noise reduction strategies need to be implemented in both areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
    EventAustralian College of Neonatal Nurses Annual Conference 2015 - Amora Hotel Jamieson, Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 10 Sept 201512 Sept 2015
    Conference number: 10
    https://docplayer.net/10902918-Acnn-2015-annual-event.html (Conference program)


    ConferenceAustralian College of Neonatal Nurses Annual Conference 2015
    Abbreviated titleACNN
    Internet address


    • neonate
    • neonatal nurses
    • a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


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