Humans use their senses to evaluate situations in which they find themselves. From birth and beyond, optimal survival requires accurate interpretation of senses of taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Hearing ranks as the most important sense after sight. Critically ill adults are vulnerable when admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) because patients are bombarded with unfamiliar sounds, bright lights, and interruptions, creating a potentially hostile environment.

Imagine waking up to the sounds of a bedside computer keeping track of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate or oxygen saturation; mechanical ventilation; continuous lateral rotation; feeding pumps; external pneumatic compressions devices; medication pumps and a continuous Yankauer suction setup tucked under a pillow. Then consider audible alarms from any 1 or 2 of those technical devices. Now interpret those sounds accurately. And by the way, the 10-member multidisciplinary team is rounding...

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