Average daytime decibel level (about as loud as a vacuum cleaner), recorded in hospitals worldwide, of talking and footsteps, overhead paging, beeping IV pumps and cardiac monitors, telephones, moving bed rails and carts, and other sounds bouncing off the many hard surfaces


Average decibel level recorded during the day in hospitals in 1960


Maximum daytime decibel level for patient rooms recommended by the World Health Organization


Number of hospitals in the past 50 years whose decibel numbers have fallen within WHO noise guidelines


Decibel level above which noise disturbs sleep


Peak decibel level recorded in patient rooms during hospital shift changes at the Mayo Clinic


Percentage reduction in the peak noise level at the Mayo Clinic after administrators taught staffers the importance of speaking quietly and covering IV pump speakers with one’s hand while programming changes; restricted overhead paging; and required the use of padded patient-chart holders to prevent clattering


Typical number of alarms to which intensive-care-unit patients are hooked up


Percentage reduction in medical errors reported by one unit at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit after it installed acoustical panels and decentralized its nurses’ stations