Q: Over time noise level in ICU has been increasing. What is the recommended allowed noise level in ICU?
Answer: The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that average hospital sound levels should not exceed 35 dB with a maximum of 40 dB overnight.
At least one study shows that values were between 51.3 and 59.1 dBA at the central station and 54.1 to 59.9dBA at the patient location. The sound level adjacent to the patient's head was almost always greater than that at the central station. Electronic sounds are more arousing than human voices, so they are very likely to continually disturb patients' sleep.
Julie L Darbyshire and J Duncan Youn - An investigation of sound levels on intensive care units with reference to the WHO guideline - Crit Care. 2013; 17(5): R187.