Best Practices for Improving Acoustics and Meeting FGI Standards

Did you know the top complaint among patients, staff and visitors in hospitals is noise?

Quiet Hospital Room

With patients’ bedside alarms sounding on average 133 times each day[1], there’s no surprise this is the top complaint. As a result, many states have incorporated the Facility Guidelines Institute’s (FGI) requirements which have increased focus on acoustical design requirements. We discuss a few tips for reducing sound in the healthcare space and how the FGI aims to reduce noise in your hospital.

Four Best Design Practices for Improving Patient Experience with Acoustics

Thicker Wall Systems

Creating a strong wall barrier between spaces is our top consideration. For example, using double studded walls help absorb sound in a space and reduce the travelling distance into other spaces. Not only does this aid in reducing sound, it helps with keeping patients’ information private.

Same Handed Patient Room Layout

Same handed room layout reduces back-to-back head walls. Head walls typically house most of the noise-making equipment on patient floors. Since patients’ ears are most often next to the head wall, this decreases noise from other patient rooms. The images below display a same-handed layout we’ve designed for an upcoming project.

Consider Adjacencies

Careful programming and planning are also helpful in minimizing noise. One example is placing patient rooms away from lobbies, waiting areas and admission areas. Thinking through adjacent spaces will decrease noise and increase privacy.

Decentralized Nursing Stations

From constant calls to staff conversations, nursing stations can be a large source of noise. Single, centralized nursing station may have operational advantages, but placing multiple nursing stations on a floor minimizes and disperses the noise.

Understanding the FGI and How it Correlates with Sound

As of April 2019, the FGI standards have been accepted in 39 states. Oklahoma recently adopted the FGI standards in May 2018 for hospitals and outpatient facilities licensed as a department of a hospital and ASCs in replacement of Title 667.[2] One change when converting from Title 667 to FGI is the STC rating was increased to 50 from 45 in patient rooms. While Texas has not currently adopted the FGI standards, Texas State Department of Health Services has stated they will adopt FGI 2018 in July 2020.

FGI provides more standards than some state guidelines for sound transmission class (STC) ratings which measures the ability for a structure to reduce airborne sound. Provided in their Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities, 2014, FGI provides the minimum sound ratings for different spaces. We created a diagram (shown below) displaying STC ratings based on corresponding room types. The higher the STC rating, the higher level of isolation.

While some states have recently adopting FGI, we’ve been using the standards in our projects for quite some time. We’re working with Stillwater Medical Center on an OB department expansion and surgery addition. We exceeded STC rating requirements to provide the best patient experience for our client.