A number of simple measures can be taken to decrease the noise level in an ICU. Their effectiveness should be monitored regularly. Patient and utility areas should have effective sound insulation. Ideally, the unit should be composed of single rooms. Speech is particularly disruptive to sleep, and conversations near the bedside should be limited to those necessary for patient care and should be directed away from the patient. Equipment such as ventilator and infusion pumps should not be placed at the head of the bed. Furthermore, the use of alarms remote from the patient should be considered. The volume of telephones and pagers should be reduced to a minimum, and noisy equipment (e.g. squeaky chairs, beds) should be repaired rapidly.
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