New FGI Guidelines Turn Down the Volume on Health Care Acoustics
Kenric Van Wyk | acousticsbydesign.com | Healthcare | January 18th, 2010
The 2010 FGI (Facility Guidelines Institute) Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities was published this month and adopted as building code by most states. The new guidelines are the culmination of over five years of collaborative work by researchers, architects, engineers, and acoustical consultants to solve the problems of speech privacy and excessive noise in hospitals. The guidelines are effective immediately for the design of all healthcare facilities. For perspective, consider the 2006 Guidelines which mandated single patient rooms in hospitals. As a result, single patient rooms are the absolute standard in healthcare design today. This was an overnight seismic shift in policy that affected all healthcare building projects. Well, the 2010 Guidelines are no different in their sweeping reforms, addressing a whole new dimension of healthcare design, namely: acoustics, noise, and HIPAA speech privacy laws.
Controlling sound in a healthcare facility is, of course, not as easy as turning down a big knob on the wall. Sound and vibration in a healthcare setting comes from a variety of locations and is a systematic problem. According to JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) excessive noise raises blood pressure, extends patient stays, and can be a safety concern. Thus, for a solution to be effective, it must be holistic and comprehensive. The acoustical portion of the guideline is extensive and covers a wide range of issues including exterior noise to the community, internal noise isolation of patient rooms, speech privacy of your medical information, and vibration isolation for mechanical equipment.
The new 2010 FGI Guidelines, published in conjunction with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association (AHA), is the kind of reform that is really needed to promote good healthcare today. Your conversations with your doctor about your sensitive medical condition will remain confidential. Sleeping in your hospital bed will be relaxing and comfortable – a respite from the typical noisy patient room